The majority of the requests we receive from UK rescues are for help with dogs and cats.
Dog fostering and dog transporting are the most requested, together with finding ‘rescue backup’ for dogs that have ended up in the pound.
Volunteering with dogs
If you’re a dog lover, volunteering with dogs is a great way to help rescues and have some fun at the same time!
Dog transporters needed
Rescue dogs often need transport to move in to rescue from the Local Authority pounds or from private homes, or transport from a rescue in to foster care.
Volunteer dog transporters provide much needed support for rescues, and without them many dogs wouldn’t get the rescue help they need.
As rescues are based all over the country, sometimes dogs will need long distance transport. We often put together transport ‘chains’ involving multiple volunteers.
Can I transport dogs?
If you have a driving license, access to a vehicle and the ability to safely handle a dog – yes you can volunteer to transport dogs.
We recommend that dogs are secured during transit, either in the boot, in a crate or using a harness on the back seat.
Volunteer dog transporters should not bring other animals or young children along for the ride. This might be distressing for the dog and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Dog fosterers needed
We’re urgently in need of more dog fosterers. This involves caring for a rescue dog in your home until his or her new home is found.
Fostering dogs – why it’s needed
Every year, thousands of dogs end up homeless throughout the UK. Dog rescues large and small take responsibility for these dogs and find new homes for them.
Many of the smaller UK animal rescues do not have premises of their own. They work with a network of volunteer fosterers who care for the animals in their own homes.
This keeps costs down and often works out better for animals that are used to a home environment, rather than them staying in rescue kennels or commercial boarding kennels, which can be a distressing change for some animals, especially dogs.
Am I able to foster dogs?
Probably yes but it does depend on your situation. A love of dogs is a must, and common sense always comes in handy!
Ideally you will not be away from the home for more than 4 hours each day (or you should be able to check in on the dog during the day if you are out of the house), as dogs shouldn’t be left alone for long periods.
Having other animals or small children in the home does not mean you cannot help. Many rescue dogs are absolutely fine to live with animals and kids. (Always make the rescue aware of the people/pets in your home when offering to foster, and always find out if the dog is suitable for your home and family)
Fostering dogs in need of extra TLC
Most dogs coming through the rescue system are happy and healthy and have ended up homeless through no fault of their own.
However, we often see dogs in rescue care after being abused or mistreated by their owners. A dog may be injured, underweight, overweight, may need basic training or have behavioural issues or sometimes even aggression issues.
You should always think carefully if offering to foster a dog with any issues. Consider whether you have the necessary experience and proper guidance from the rescue so that you can properly bring the dog back to full health, ready for rehoming.
The staff and members at Rescue Helpers Unite will always be available to offer advice and assistance if you need us, and the rescue should definitely be your first port of call if you have any queries or problems.
There are loads of dogs in need of foster homes right now! Could you open your heart and home to one of them? Register as a volunteer to help foster rescue dogs
Volunteer dog walking
By volunteering as a dog walker you can help rescue dogs get more exercise and have some fun!
If a rescue dog is being cared for in kennels, they might not always get long, luxurious walks out and about in the local area, but every dog deserves a good walk, even the homeless ones.
Register and post on the volunteer forum to see if any rescues in your area have requested help with dog walking, or use our animal rescue directory to find a dog rescue in your area and contact them to ask if they’re in need of any help from volunteer dog walkers.
Helping poundies and ‘death row dogs’
Every Local Authority in the UK has a responsibility to care for stray and abandoned dogs in their area. Some house the dogs in their own privately run kennels, some use commercial boarding kennels or outsource to commercial dog warden companies and some use local rescue kennels.
If a dog has not been reclaimed within 7 days, or if a dog has been handed in to the pound by it’s owner, the Local Authorities then have the right to rehome (or sell) the dog, pass the dog on to another organisation such as a rescue, or, they can euthanise the dog (over 7,000 dogs are euthanised by UK Local Authorities each year and even more in Ireland).
Volunteers work with many kennels (also known as dog ‘pounds’) to help move dogs out once their time is up, and to find suitable rescues to take the dogs.
These volunteers, (we call them ‘Pound Helpers’) usually visit the dogs, take photographs and details and then share the information with other organisations, such as on our forum, until an offer of rescue ‘backup’ is received and the dog can then be moved on to rescue.
UK dog pounds
Some areas of the UK are much worse than others in terms of their stray dog numbers and their attitude towards rescue and dog euthanisation.
If you’re interested in doing more to help the poundies in your area, it’s recommended that you register on our forum to see if anyone is already working with your Local pound. If so, they will likely appreciate any assistance you can give.
If no one knows of any help being given in your area already, you should definitely contact your local pound or your Local Authority to see if they will accept your help. Dog & animal warden details should be available on your Local Authority’s website. (Find your Local Authority’s website address)
We hope this post helped to provide a basic guide about volunteering with dogs. We’ll be posting more in-depth information soon but feel free to post a comment below if you’ve got any queries and don’t forget to check out our mini-site all about dog fostering.