You Can Make a Difference...Volunteer!

At Helen Woodward Animal Center, people help animals and animals help people. Our lives are more precious when trust, unconditional love, respect and care exist as the primary bond between animals and one another. Most of the work that is done here would not be possible without our team of dedicated volunteers, who donate their time to help us continue our mission.

There is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available for anyone looking to join our family. Whether it’s walking dogs in Adoptions, lending a hand at one of our local events or helping in our Administrative office, there is something for everyone!  Read and learn about the different opportunities available (listed below).


Helen Woodward Animal Center Volunteering FAQ's

All prospective individuals must attend a Volunteer Orientation and tour. This will help you learn about our volunteer programs, the benefits to the animals and the community, and the commitment involved. Volunteer openings are limited and are posted at the orientation.


The minimum age to volunteer is 14 years old; however some departments require that volunteers must be either 16 or 18 years of age.


You can apply online or download the volunteer opportunities package/application. You can bring the completed volunteer application with you to Orientation.
Volunteer positions require a weekly 3-6 hour commitment for 6 months or 70 hours. Each program will have different shift times and days where volunteers can assist. They will be highlighted at Orientation.


Yes. Within 2 weeks after Orientation, a one-on-one interview is required. Immediately following Orientation, we will forward your application to your top volunteer choices. The Department Manager will review your application and schedule and contact you if they would like to schedule an interview. Interviews are scheduled only if you have completed Orientation and are available for the specific training dates and shift openings.


Not automatically. Generally, we accept most of the applicants who apply for the program. However, we cannot guarantee a spot for every individual. At different times throughout the year, we may have more applicants than positions available. Sometimes an applicant’s availability may not meet the time frame of the program. Additionally, for some of our programs, applicants must have specific animal experience to be qualified for that opening.


 Yes and No. We have a wide variety of volunteer positions and openings. Some require existing experience, and others have training provided at the Center. The qualifications and experience needed will be reviewed at Orientation.
Orientation sessions are held on select Saturdays mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. To sign up for Orientation or for more information, please email the Volunteer Coordinator or call 858-756-4117 extension 370. Be sure to include your name, email address and phone numbers. 


Yes, we always need help at our fundraisers. We conduct several fundraising events each year, such as The Spring Fling, Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon and HOPE Telethon. You do not need to attend an orientation for these projects; however the tasks do not include “hands-on” activity with the animals. Examples of tasks include: registration, cashiering, check-in, stuffing bags, flyer distribution, etc.


If accepted, training dates and volunteer schedules are usually assigned within the same month. Each Department will have a specific training date and schedule. Some Departments have group training and others conduct one-on-one training.

Volunteer orientations are held in Morse Hall onsite at the Center. Parking information will be sent in a detailed e-mail to those who have completed the online application one week before orientation.

Tours are conducted during Volunteer Orientation. If you would like to join us for the tour only, the time frame is from 10:00 a.m. to 11 a.m . Please do not bring pets or small children. To sign up, email us or call 858-756-4117  ext. 370.
Under no circumstances will Helen Woodward Animal Center be able to verify any hours for court-ordered community service. Please contact the court for a list of participating non-profit organizations to verify your hours.



Interested in a paid position? We are hiring!

Get in contact with us!


Megan McCarty


858-756-4117 ext. 305


Monday–Friday: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

Helen Woodward Animal Center

6461 El Apajo Rd.

PO Box 64

Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

Due to Hurricane Hilary, all  departments will be closing at 3pm today.  Stay safe!