Volunteering at BENCHS

Thank you for your interest in joining the volunteer team at BENCHS! Volunteers are critical to the health and well-being of the cats and dogs living at the shelter. From in-shelter animal care to event support to at-home foster care, volunteers make it possible for BENCHS to accomplish its mission and give shelter animals a second chance at a full, happy life.

You can make a difference! Get involved in our mission by volunteering as an individual or with a group. It would be impossible for us to take in and care for the many new animals that come to our facility every month—if not for the generosity of the volunteers and supporters at BENCHS. Our organization depends on the continued commitment and support of this group of people. If you love animals the way we do and would like to join our circle of friends, we encourage you to explore the different ways to help listed on each of these sections of the website before signing up to volunteer.

Volunteer FAQs

  • Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. If you are younger than 18, look below for a list of ways that children can be involved in BENCHS.
  • Volunteers must be able to understand and fulfill their assignments independently. (See Essential Capabilities of a Volunteer below.)
  • Only trained volunteers are allowed to work with the animals.
  • We ask volunteers to commit to once a week for twelve weeks. Our animals do best with consistency and it helps with their social development.
  • Volunteers are asked to sign in every time they volunteer. The number of volunteers and the hours volunteers work help us to secure grants to keep our program strong.

If you are looking for college credit or court-ordered volunteer opportunities, please see the specific programs for those volunteers. 

Volunteering at BENCHS does require certain skills and abilities. These essential capabilities are, but not limited to:

  • Able to work independently and willing to work as part of a team.
  • Comfortable speaking to members of the public.
  • Maintain professional appearance & positive energy when volunteering.
  • Willing to learn and utilize our online volunteer scheduling system.
  • Able to see the body language of an animal for safety.
  • Able to take instructions and follow safety protocols.
  • Able to work with cleaning chemicals.
  • Meeting the basic physical requirements for volunteers.
  • Commitment to the BENCHS mission & the volunteer program mission.

BENCHS has an official partnership with MRCI in Mankato to provide community service opportunities to people with disabilities.

For any volunteers wanting to work with animals, there are these additional essential capabilities:

  • Standing unassisted for long periods of time.
  • Walk distances unassisted.
  • Bend, kneel, crouch unassisted.
  • Use of both hands simultaneously.
  • Lift, carry and move at least 25 pounds independently.
  • Volunteer roles may have additional requirements.

BENCHS has an official partnership with MRCI in Mankato to provide community service opportunities to people with disabilities.

BENCHS is always looking for ways to involve children in the rescuing of dogs and cats! Here are some ideas:

  • Ask for birthday donations instead of gifts.
  • Raise awareness about the importance of spaying and neutering your pets.
  • Hold a donation drive for items on our donation list.
  • Raise money for BENCHS through a bake sale (human or pet),garage sale, lemonade stand, craft sale, etc.
  • Make adoption advertisements for the adoptable dogs and cats to hang in the hallways at BENCHS
  • Make snuffle matts.
  • Make dog toys out of old t-shirts or jeans.
  • Volunteer to help at a BENCHS event with a parent.
  • Make “Adopt Me” bandanas or vests for the BENCHS dogs.
  • Help hang flyers up in the community for BENCHS activities.
  • Start a coin drive in your school for BENCHS.
  • Host a read-a-thon! Ask friends and family to donate money for each animal-related book you read.
  • Create an “Animal Lover’s Quilt” or put together an “Animal Supplies” basket to raffle off.

In short, no. Dog walkers must go through comprehensive training to work with the dogs in our Dog Enrichment Program. Because of the time it takes to complete the training, we ask that they commit two hours every week for 6 months.

Customers and short-term volunteers cannot walk dogs at the shelter. Customers are allowed to interact with dogs only with volunteer or staff assistance.

Volunteering at BENCHS is about more than snuggling with the animals. We ask that volunteers complete the volunteer opportunity they signed up to do first, and then take time to snuggle and cuddle the animals. We always need extra help with the daily care of the animals and upkeep of the shelter ~ and the animals need your love and attention while they wait for their forever homes!

Reminder: Volunteers must go through comprehensive training to work with the animals.