Maybe, this is the first time you decide to become a sea turtle volunteer. Or, perhaps you are a seasoned volunteer with multiple turtle trips under your belt. Or, maybe…
Volunteering in general allows people to be more in touch with their natural environment and also partake in a rewarding experience which is fulfilling on many different levels. The stress of the ongoing pandemic has encouraged many all around the world to utilise their time for animal volunteering. Here are 7 reasons why you would benefit by animal volunteering!
- Animal volunteering can be therapeutic!
If you have had any previous experiences with animals, you probably understand how calming interactions with an animal can be. Psychologist Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps explains that spending time with animals can be stress-relieving on a physical and mental level. As a result, being physically around animals can improve our immunity functions, decrease heart rate, and blood pressure, as well as pain. Similarly, it can mentally help in decreasing loneliness and anxiety, and also increase happiness and emotional well-being.
Just like humans, every animal’s personality is unique. As a result, animal volunteering will allow you to learn how to cater to each being depending on their distinctive personality. You may have to use different words or gestures to best provide support and training for the animals. And believe me this is no easy task! This will allow you to grow patience, which will be useful not only with animals but people around you as well.
3. Animals are great companions
Animals are loving and loyal creatures. They are capable of creating emotional bonds and long-lasting friendships. With an animal around you will never be anything short of entertained. You will also discover a little companion who will always be by your side. Therefore, they can be your lifelong buddy if given the opportunity for such connection!
4. The feeling of fulfilment
Just as animals have personalities like us humans, they also get stressed like us. Spending time with dogs in a shelter can marginally reduce kennel stress. As mentioned earlier, every animal is unique. Some dogs have a difficult time adjusting to the environment in the kennel. They portray anxious habits such as reduction in appetite, hiding, aggression. Helping a cute little pup out of his stress with positive activities like dog-walking, will give you a sense of fulfilment like no other!
While choosing where you want to volunteer you must consider the type of interaction you will have with the animals. This post mainly addresses interactions one would have with animals in a shelter or sanctuary. These animals are rescued and treated to be adopted by loving people or to live out their years within the sanctuary. Contrastingly, rehabilitation centres for wildlife rescues aim to keep human interaction to a minimal. Fear of humans is an imperative survival trait and regular human interaction may decrease this instinct, hence, putting them at risk when returning to nature. While you may not be in close contact with animals within a rehabilitation centre, you can still experience new and exotic places which have a lot to offer!
5. Helping an animal in need
As much as many of us love animals, it’s not possible for us to house them all. Therefore, to protect these animals they are kept in shelters with many others, resulting in them being deprived of the individual affection they would receive in a loving home. Volunteering can help such animals receive the attention they need and help them feel happier and loved.
Adjusting to the new norms due to the pandemic has been mentally draining for people of all backgrounds. Therefore, being around animals may help you feel more at peace with the ongoing situation. For example, many people have started giving opportunities like horse-riding for special needs kids and adults which can allow you to feel at par with nature.
7. Helps develop future career skills
Volunteering can give you the opportunity to develop hands-on skills and gain real life experience with animals. It provides an insight on the administrative tasks that are occurring behind the scenes of an animal rescue centre or sanctuary. Furthermore, it may aid you in determining if this is the field you would like the direction of your career heading towards. Who knows? Maybe working in an elephant sanctuary led to a newfound love for animals that opened your eyes to an impactful and interesting career path!
If you are interested in pursuing animal volunteering, do research shelters within your vicinity. Make sure that they consider the ethics of volunteering and treat their animals with the kindness and respect they deserve! Here are some ethical volunteering opportunities you might be interested in!