Shelter Etiquette

When working at a shelter, there are usually certain rules you need to follow. For example, most shelters request that you don't stick your hands in one cat cage and then another without washing or disinfecting first because of the risk of transmitting diseases from one animal to another. Inquire about any rules you are expected to follow and follow them at all times. These rules are there for the protection of everyone involved; you, the animals, and the shelter.

Most shelters have an orientation you, and all volunteers, must attend before you are allowed to work with the animals. This orientation will tell you how to handle the animals to make sure that any interaction is pleasant for you and the animal.

While photographing the animals, we sometimes receive questions about the animals from potential adopters because they assume we are staff members or adoption specialists. We always explain that we are just there to photograph the animals and then refer them to a staff member or appropriate volunteer. Never open a cage or hand an animal over to a potential adopter; all interaction between the public and the animals must be through the staff or appropriate volunteer, not through you.

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