GTHS Volunteer FAQ

Do You Accept All Volunteers?

Unfortunately, not everyone can volunteer with us.

Some positions have a minimum age requirement, some require a specific skill set or experience, others are physically demanding so may be unsuitable for people with limited mobility or stamina. Learn more about our volunteer roles & responsibilities.

As a not-for-profit organization, we do not have the resources to offer extensive training. We rely heavily on the skills and experience our volunteers bring with them to our organization, for instance: to help with data entry volunteers must have experience with computers and have an extremely high accuracy rate, or to join our Dog Care Team we are looking for individuals who have current, varied and large dog handling, walking or training experience.

If there is not a specific role where your talents can be used, then likely you will not be a good volunteer match for the GTHS, but we encourage you to assist the organization in other ways – such as attending events and donating to help the animals at the GTHS.


Can Volunteers Do More Than One Thing?

Absolutely!  Some volunteers assist in multiple positions across different areas of our organization, but there’s no pressure for you to undertake more than one position or shift.

We encourage individuals to help out in the programs that they are passionate about and best suit their skill set and availability. The Volunteer Coordinator will work with you to ensure that the volunteer opportunity is a match.


How Do I Become a Volunteer?

Please review the Current volunteer openings and follow the application instructions. Volunteer candidates are asked to complete a Volunteer Application Form and Foster Volunteer candidates are asked to complete a Foster Application Form instead.

All applicants will be contacted by email and prospective candidates may be asked to participate in a telephone interview. Check your email inbox and/or junk folder!

Successful candidates matching the requirements for GTHS volunteer programming will receive onboarding materials, including access to a virtual Orientation (or will be scheduled to attend an onsite Orientation), and will subsequently receive training resources and/or onsite training.

Some volunteers (for instance: Treasure Tails, Front Desk, Hospital Discharge Volunteers) will be asked to complete a criminal record police check prior to onsite training, and Humane Education Volunteers will require a vulnerable sector police check. Transfer Volunteers will be asked to provide a copy of their clean driving license.


What’s an Orientation and How Do I Get One?

Successful volunteer candidates will be given access to a virtual Orientation or will be scheduled to attend an Orientation at the Animal Centre prior to commencing their volunteer duties.

As part of our Orientation, new volunteers will learn about our organization, receive a tour of our Animal Centre and obtain useful information about being a GTHS Volunteer.

Following Orientation, training resources will be supplied (if appropriate) and onsite training will be provided at a mutually convenient time (if required).


Do I Need to Obtain a Police Check Before I Become a Volunteer?

Criminal record police checks are required for volunteers handling financial transactions, donations or items of value. Humane Education Volunteers work with children, therefore, require a vulnerable sector police check.


What Types of Foster Cases Do You Have at GTHS?

  • Mildly sick or injured animals in need of recuperation and recovery :  Examples might include a cat/dog who needs medication at regularly spaced intervals, an animal in bandages or a cast / recovering from surgery who can’t be kenneled / caged….
    • These cases would potentially require multiple follow-up appointments at the Animal Centre throughout the foster period. Appointments take place during weekday Hospital business hours.
  • Pregnant or nursing mama with her litter : This is one of the longer term foster cases ranging anywhere from 10-14 weeks, but can theoretically also be the least amount of work for the Foster Volunteer; you take care of mom and mom takes care of her babies.
    • A pregnant mom would be with you until she gives birth, would remain with her babies until they’re ready to be returned to the Animal Centre to be spayed/neutered (and, in the case of puppies, adopted), and mom would stay with you for an additional week or so until her milk dries up (at which time she’d be ready to be returned to the Centre to be spayed and made ready for adoption).
  • Orphaned puppies/kittens < 4 weeks old (bottle babies) :  Bottle fed babies require around the clock feeding with a bottle or syringe until they’re on solids (wet food). Initially this may require bottle / syringe feeding every 2 hours, including through the night, to ensure their survival.
    • Kittens also need to be stimulated after feeding (a gentle wipe of their genital area with a warm wash cloth), to replicate what mom would do to help them pee / poop.
  • Orphaned puppies/kittens > 4 weeks old : These babies are on solid food, but bottle / syringe feeding may be required to supplement this if a baby isn’t thriving.
    • NOTE: Kitten litters tend to range between 5-7, however, we’ve been known to have up to 9 kittens in one litter.
    • Puppy litters average between 2-5 pups, although can be larger.
    • We aim to never split up litters.
    • Puppies/kittens will be with you until they are approximately 8 weeks old or an appropriate body weight to be returned to the Animal Centre (at which time they’ll be fixed, vaccinated, etc. and will go up for adoption).
    • Babies can be messy and have ‘accidents’ in the house, which is why we recommend a spare bathroom as the primary foster location.
    • Kittens will need to be taught to use the litter box and puppies will need to be puppy pee pad trained / trained to ‘go’ outside.
  • Animals in need of socialization :  This might be a cat / dog who won’t do or isn’t doing well in a ‘shelter’ setting – they may be senior, they may need to be socialized with humans and/or around other animals, they may not have experienced living indoors or been exposed to many environmental factors (like cars, wearing a collar, walking on a leash, etc.).
    • These cases might include semi-feral cats who require domestication.
    • These animals might be very shy and require a quiet foster home, where their foster parent will be patient with them whilst trying to coax them out of their shell.
    • Ultimately, the aim of fostering animals in need of socialization is to set them up for success, so they become more ‘adoptable’ and less likely to be returned once they are adopted.
  • Cats / Dogs in our Emergency Board Service :  This will usually be for a single cat / dog who belongs to someone and they will never be a GTHS animal available for adoption.
    • We provide this foster service to people who are experiencing a crisis and are temporarily unable to care for their pet, examples might include someone who is going into hospital for surgery followed by a lengthy recovery, someone who is temporarily homeless due to domestic violence or a house fire.
    • These tend to be the longest foster cases at approximately 6 months, although we occasionally have short-term needs ranging between 1-3 months.

Foster preferences can be changed at any time and Foster Volunteers are not obliged to accept a proposed foster case; we want to ensure that the animal’s and our Foster Volunteer’s experience is a positive one and that it’s a good fit for all concerned.

Download a Foster Application Form


What Do I Have to Pay for When I’m Fostering?


The GTHS provides all the supplies you need for the Foster animal in your care (food, litter, pet carrier, leash, etc…).  Our Foster Care Coordinator will liaise with you about the collection of supplies and the return of any unused items.

Foster animals may require appointments, treatment, medication or surgery whilst in your care (based on the Foster cases you agree to). The GTHS takes care of these needs and costs through our onsite Companion Animal Hospital and our Foster Care Coordinator will make all the arrangements for you and your Foster animal.

If your Foster animal experiences an after-hours medical emergency, we have a plan in place for that too!  You’ll receive Foster resources when you join this team to help set you and your Foster animal up for success.

Download a Foster Application Form


I Want to Try Volunteering Once or Twice to See if I Like it. Is That OK?

We ask our volunteers to make a commitment of at least six months.

Due to limited resources, we do not have the ability to provide training to volunteers who are unable to commit for at least six months. While we rely heavily on the skills and experiences that volunteers bring to the organization, we also train new volunteers. As a result, the training and experience gained in a GTHS volunteer role is invaluable to the organization. It is very difficult to sustain well-trained and experienced volunteers, and a good team rapport, if volunteers leave after only a short time.


My Child is Under 18 and Wants to Volunteer. Is This Possible?

Children of any age, with parental / guardian supervision and support, can become Foster Volunteers.

Children under 15 cannot volunteer at the GTHS in any other capacity, but our Humane Education Program offers a variety of courses, activities and programing for youth.

Children with a minimum age of 15 can volunteer, without parental / guardian supervision, in our Cat Care Team as a Cat Care Team Member, and can assist in other areas of Cat Care from the age of 16.

We accept children 16 or older for Dog Care and for our Fundraising & Events Team.

Youth opportunities are available to candidates who are passionate about the activities they have applied for and who meet the specified qualification criteria.

Applicants must be 18 or older to volunteer at our Treasure Tails retail store, within the Humane Education Program, in our Hospital, in an administrative capacity or as an Adoption Counselor.

Learn more about our volunteer roles & responsibilities

Download a Volunteer Application Form

Download a Foster Application Form

Children don’t need to be GTHS volunteers to spend time at our Animal Centre. Our Main Cat Room is open Monday through Sunday from midday to 4pm. Feel free to accompany your child any day of the week, to play with and groom our cats! You can borrow grooming tools and toys whilst onsite, simply ask a volunteer or member of staff.


Can I Complete my High School Community Service Hours at the GTHS?

High school community service hours can be completed at the GTHS. These ‘placements’ are in high demand, so we recommend applying early to avoid being waitlisted. Download a Volunteer Application Form

Our Animal Centre closes at 4pm daily, so volunteer hours are completed on consecutive weekends or over summer.

Students requiring a minimum of 30 hours are assigned placements within the Cat Care Team, based on Current volunteer openings. Alternatively, students can provide general help around the Animal Centre (cleaning, tidying, weeding, etc.).


Can I Complete my High School Cooperative Education Placement at the GTHS?

Each semester, the GTHS welcomes high school Co-Op students to complete their credits at our Animal Centre. We value these students’ enthusiasm, energy and commitment to helping improve the lives of the animals in our care. The GTHS is dedicated to providing a comprehensive and safe learning environment for students.

Three Co-Op positions are available for each semester of the school year (commencing September and February). Students will spend one semester at the GTHS; further developing their skills and interests within Marketing, Communications, Events, Animal Care, Administration or Adoptions.

Please ask your teacher to reach out to our Humane Education Coordinator by email:


Is it OK to Volunteer so I can Adopt an Animal?

Volunteers pay the same adoption fee as other adopters, so there is no financial benefit to volunteering before adopting. By being a volunteer you may, however, have the opportunity to see animals before they become available for adoption.

Volunteers are asked to contact the Adoptions Coordinator if they would like to adopt one of our animals.

An important part of volunteering at the GTHS is a personal commitment to the animals. One of the forms this can take is fostering and adopting the animals in our care. While it is important to support volunteers in this, it is important to recognize that volunteering at the GTHS can be emotionally overwhelming and can lead to an unrealistic urge to save every animal through an over commitment or ill-considered foster and/or adoption. We encourage responsible adoptions, as it is equally important that we are accountable for our decisions and the disposition of animals.


Can Foster Volunteers Adopt Their Foster Animals?

The Foster Program has two primary goals — to provide temporary care for animals and to assist GTHS animals in becoming ready for adoption.

Being a Foster Volunteer can be a very emotional experience. On the whole, Foster Volunteers are compassionate people who understand that, by not adopting, they can help many more animals become healthy and adoptable. Losing a Foster Volunteer has an impact on the program and the number of animals we can rehabilitate or care for.

It is natural that a Foster Volunteer may become attached to an animal they are fostering and wish to adopt it. When this happens, we encourage the Foster Volunteer to discuss adoption with the Adoptions Specialist.

When a Foster Volunteer adopts a foster animal in their care, they must ensure the animal is spayed/neutered, microchipped and provided vaccinations in line with scheduled dates provided by the GTHS, and must complete adoption documentation and payment on a timely basis.


Who Should I Contact About Another Volunteer-Related Question?

Can’t find the answer in our FAQs? Please address any additional volunteer-related enquiries to:


Download a Volunteer Application Form

Download a Foster Application Form

Check out our current volunteer openings

Learn more about our volunteer roles & responsibilities

Return to our main Volunteer page


Stay informed on GTHS events, initiatives and programs. Learn how the GTHS team is serving the pets and people of the South Georgian Bay Area. Read heart-warming Happy Tails about GTHS Alumni. See a lot of really cute pictures of dogs and cats!