of dedicated individuals who help support our staff to care for homeless pets and achieve our mission, and we are always looking for new and enthusiastic people to join our current team. We offer orientations and training sessions throughout the year.

Where do I start?

Please submit a volunteer application. Your application will be reviewed by our Volunteer Manager and you will be notified of any appropriate volunteer opportunities.

Age Requirements

16 & Under – Must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

17 & Up – We have a number of volunteer roles for adults who would like to support our team! AWL does not have an upper age limit for being a volunteer.

Lisa Voss
Manager of
Volunteer Programs

Phone: 941-625-6720 Ext. 106
Email: volunteers@awlshelter.org

Volunteer Opportunities

Dog Walkers
Cat/Dog Enrichment
Foster Homes
Laundry Help
Evacuation Volunteers
Assisting at adoption and fundraising events
Outreach Programs
Animal Transport
Assisting with TNVR (trap, neuter, vaccinate, return) program
Medical area
Cat care at Pet Store

For more information on the volunteer programs please see below

From the Volunteer Office:

From The Volunteer Office

It’s been a long hot summer for everyone! I am now back in the office after my lengthy medical leave. My schedule is 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday. I am also frequently online during the evenings and weekends.

In September, we began offering a new volunteer service area: Small Animal Care and Enrichment. We nearly always have small animals: mice, hamsters, gerbils, rats, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rabbits, ferrets. Front Desk staff care for these animals in the morning, and our new service area will hopefully allow volunteers to give these animals some care and attention in the late afternoon, before the shelter closes. If you would like to be assigned to this service area, please email me!

In October, “Gardening and Landscaping” will begin appearing on the daily volunteer schedule. Anyone assigned to this service area can sign up. “Work Orders” will be provided to the volunteers by the Facilities Manager via the Volunteer office.

Also in October, we are launching another new service area, “Special Events – Leader.” Volunteers assigned to this service area will coordinate special events for the Marketing Manager. Duties include transporting animals and info table material (shelter-provided vehicle), setting up the event, breaking it down, coordinating with event host personnel, and managing the AWL volunteers assigned to the event. We will have an info meeting for anyone interested in this new service area here at the shelter at 6 Pm on October 5.

Did You Know?

When looking at your service options for any specific day, you can click on the “descriptions” links to see brief descriptions of the work done in that area.

Description of Volunteer Opportunities

To become a Blue Dog Walker, volunteers must–

  • Be at least 18
  • Complete one Dog Care shift, preferably AM
  • Complete safety training


If you would like to be scheduled for safety training, please email volunteers@awlshelter.org.  Only the Manager of Volunteer Programs can schedule volunteers for safety training and award them Blue, Red, or Intake walking status.


Access the safety protocol for the Adoption Center here.

Access the safety protocol for the Intake Building here.


New Blue Walkers may request Red Dog Walker training after becoming comfortable walking the Blue Dogs.  Red Dog Walkers may request Intake Walker training.  However, volunteers can remain Blue Walkers if they choose.

Everyday, we have three cat care shifts:
  • 8:00 AM to 10:30 AM
  • 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
  • 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Our volunteers assist the cat staff person on duty with--
  • Sterilizing water bowls
  • Changing bedding
  • Cleaning litter boxes
  • Wiping down cat habitats
  • Providing fresh food and water
  • Offering socialization & play
All cat care training is provided on the spot.  Just sign up for your first shift, and the cat staff person on duty will show you what to do.  The minimum age for volunteering in the cat area is 10 years (with a parent or guardian present).

G&L Volunteers can come in anytime during shelter hours to complete the open work orders of their choice.  If you are a G&L Volunteer, you can access our open work orders here.


Because G&L tasks do not appear on the daily schedule, G&L volunteers should post their hours using the “post your hours” function on their Volunteer Dashboard.  G&L Volunteers must still sign in and out at the reception desk.


While we do have some tools available, you may prefer to bring your own.

AWL offers cats and kittens for adoption through 6 local pet stores.  Everyday, our volunteers take care of the kitties, while the stores donate supplies and process adoptions.  (All adoption fees are given to AWL.)


  • PetSmart, Corcoran Blvd
  • Pet Supermarket Peachland Promenade
  • Pet Supermarket Charlotte Harbor
  • Pet Supermarket Punta Gorda
  • Pet Supplies Plus King’s Highway
  • Pet Supplies Plus Price & Sumter Blvds, North Port


Unlike volunteering at the shelter, volunteering at a partner store requires volunteers to maintain a regular schedule, taking care of the cats the same day every week.  Also, most stores require our volunteers to come in just before the stores open, so everything is fresh for the new day.  A few stores do have afternoon shifts as well, with more flexible timing.  


Tasks include cleaning litter boxes, providing fresh food & water, shaking out/replacing bedding, and wiping all hard surfaces with antiviral cleaning solution.  With the exception of PetSmart, most stores only have 3 to 4 cats at a time.

If you are interested in volunteering at one of our partner pet stores, please email the volunteer office.

AWL does accept volunteers who seek to complete court-ordered community service.  However, COSC volunteers must be able to start service at 7:30 AM and should recognize that AWL closes at 4 PM, so evening hours are never available.  COSC volunteers are also restricted to cat care, dog care, and maintenance/housekeeping assignments.


If you are interested in completing COCS hours at AWL, please call the Manager of Volunteer Programs at 941-625-6720, x106. 

Yes, you can earn your volunteer hours at AWL!  To get started, fill out a youth volunteer application.  The Manager of Volunteer Programs will contact you to schedule your New Volunteer Orientation.  Please note that youth volunteers (anyone under 18) must bring a parent or guardian to orientation.  


Age Requirements.   When volunteering, those between the ages of 10 and 15 must have a parent or guardian with them unless the Manager of Volunteer Programs excuses them from this requirement.  Sixteen- and seventeen-year-old volunteers may volunteer on their own.  AWL does not accept volunteers under 10 years old.


Hours Tracking.  To ensure accurate hours tracking, SRCS Volunteers must put themselves on the schedule AND sign in & out at the Front Desk.  If volunteers have not signed in and out at the Front Desk, they will not get credit for their service.  


Hours Records Retention.  Volunteers are encouraged to view their hours periodically  under the “My Service History” tab in their Volunteer Dashboard and to print out this information if they anticipate a long lapse in service, since AWL does routinely delete records for volunteers who stop volunteering for longer than 6 months.

AWL offers two free classes to volunteers & the community:  Cat Handling & Doc Talk.  Check the Events calendar for the next sessions!


Cat Handling. Approach almost any cat with confidence!  Led by one of our senior cat volunteers, this 60-minute interactive class provides hands-on practice in recognizing, interpreting, and correctly responding to cat body language.  AWL recommends this class for new cat volunteers and new adopters.


Doc Talk.  Led by our Medical Director, Dr. Vernet, these 60-minute classes focus on different areas of veterinary care in a shelter environment, as well as pet care issues in the home.  These classes are a must for all pet lovers & owners!

Volunteers can sign up for these classes via Volgistics.  Other members of the community can sign up by completing this form.

Contact the
Volunteer Office

The Volunteer Office is open
7:00 AM to 3:30 PM,
Tuesday through Saturday.

941-625-6720 x106