Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering at Animal Welfare:
How to Get Started

Volunteers are essential to our lifesaving mission. Some of the volunteer activities you can help with include: dog walking, socializing dogs & cats, enrichment activities, fostering, photography, and special events. Junior volunteers are welcome to join us, but must be at least 14 years old (see details below under Volunteer Requirements). Volunteer opportunities are constantly changing as we grow and develop new programs; but what doesn't change is your impact.

In order for you to get the most out of your experience at MCAW, there are a few requirements we ask volunteers to meet.

Volunteer Requirements

• Submit an online application, which includes signing a volunteer agreement and a Release and Waiver of Liability form.
• Complete an online general volunteer orientation session.
• Attend an in-person interview and tour of facility and pick up your volunteer wristband.
• Sign up and volunteer for three Support Task activities at either facility prior to participating in the various MCAW volunteer opportunities.
• Be able to work independently and meet the volunteer requirements – including the essential capabilities of our volunteers.
• Attend additional training sessions as required by MCAW.
• Volunteer at least monthly.
• Treat all animals with kindness and concern for their welfare.
• Represent yourself and MCAW in a professional manner and treat clients, staff, and other volunteers with respect.
• Junior volunteers (minimum age 14 years old for cats and 16  years old for dogs) can volunteer after completing all registration requirements and the orientation tour. Junior volunteers can foster once an application has been completed by a parent or guardian.

NEW VOLUNTEERS apply here. 

Special Volunteer Opportunities: Rabbit Care Volunteer

Did you know pet rabbits often like to play fetch or other games with a friend? Manatee County Animal Welfare is recruiting rabbit care volunteers to provide enrichment, care, and socialization to the bunnies at the center waiting for forever homes. Shifts are available in the morning, from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m., or afternoon, from 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. Age 14 or older, and no prior experience needed. We will give you the training and tools to keep our rabbits healthy and hippity-hoppity until they get adopted!

Rabbit care volunteer shifts are located at the Bishop Animal Shelter in Bradenton.


Special Volunteer Opportunities: Medical Volunteer Position

MCAW is searching for volunteers to assist the Veterinary Services department by providing general observation and care of animals undergoing and recovering from surgery. Interested volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, reliable, understand MCAW’s mission and goals, be flexible, and have a great love and compassion for animals.

Position Description:

Compassionate care is the top priority for all animals. Major responsibilities include: ensuring surgical equipment is clean, orderly, and ready for use; monitoring pets in recovery stage from surgery; changing blankets and sheets as needed; and other duties as needed to ensure that every animal receives appropriate and timely medical treatment.


  • Must be able to assist in recovering animals following surgery.
  • Must be able to lift and safely restrain small to large animals as needed for medical procedures.
  • Must be comfortable observing sedated animals, and those undergoing surgery and post-surgery recovery.
  • Must be able to follow verbal directions.
  • Must be willing to help clean cages, floors, laundry etc. to ensure flow and proper sanitation between patients. Other duties may include assisted feeding, surgery instrument sanitation, and general assistance in the medical area.
  • This volunteer position will assist one day per week for approximately 4–7 hours.

All selected candidates will have an opportunity to interview with our Medical Director. Candidates selected to move forward will spend a day shadowing in Vet Services prior to being accepted for the position. The Vet Services Surgical Volunteer must adhere to strict confidentiality guidelines.

Apply to become a MEDICAL VOLUNTEER.

Fostering Opportunities

Foster parents are volunteers that provide temporary care for animals who aren't quite ready for adoption due to age, health or behavior. The necessary supplies are provided by MCAW, so all you need is time and love to give! If you have room in your home and heart and are interested in becoming a foster volunteer, please fill out the volunteer application above to start the process. For additional information about the program, please contact 941-742-5933 ext. 8314.

Click here to become a FOSTER.

How Our Community Can Help MCAW

While volunteering involves specialized training, especially for animal-handling, there are many ways that you can still help MCAW.

Donations are needed on a year-round basis. Items such as training treats, cat toys, canned kitten food, bleach, laundry detergent and dish soap are always welcome. When the weather becomes cooler, we will post on social media when we require blankets and towels. Some neighborhoods and classrooms have started their own donation drives for supplies for the shelter; this is a wonderful way to engage your community to help our shelter. View our Amazon Wish List created by Friends of Manatee County Animal Welfare.

Promotion of the shelter is always needed. Come by the shelter and pick up our materials and help distribute them to businesses and other locations. This helps spread the word about our programs and services. Use your social media platforms to help promote MCAW, including our adoptable animals and current promotions. 

Assemble dog enrichment treats at home. One of the most important activities that we provide to our pets are daily enrichment activities. These treats help keep our pets happy and healthy while spending time inside their kennels. Click here for an instruction manual for creating enrichment treats at home. After making the treats, please remember to seal them in a container or baggie, marked with the date of assembly, then freeze. You can drop-off the frozen, assembled, enrichment treats to the Palmetto Adoption Center. We will distribute them for the dogs to enjoy!  

If you need help with any of the above options, or have ideas on how you would like to help MCAW, please contact us.