Volunteer Training

Volunteer Training

As an spcaLA Volunteer, you do more than cuddle kitties and puppies.

spcaLA Volunteers enrich the lives of shelter pets, prevent cruelty to animals, educate kids and adults and provide vitals services, necessary to operate Southern California’s first and finest animal welfare agency. We provide you with all the training and support you need!

Info Session
To help you decide if spcaLA is the right fit for you, prospective volunteers attend an information session, where you can learn more about spcaLA, ask questions, and learn what to expect.

All spcaLA Volunteers attend a 1 & 1/2 hour orientation at an spcaLA facility. You will learn more about volunteer tasks, opportunities and the dynamic programs and services of your spcaLA. Volunteers wishing to participate solely in Animal Assisted Therapy or Foster attend a specialized orientation for their chosen program.

Helping Enrich Animals’ Lives (HEAL)™
Developed by spcaLA, the HEAL program empowers spcaLA volunteers to properly care for, handle and enrich the lives of our shelter pets. Our goal is to help our animals thrive in a shelter environment while teaching them skills they will need to be adopted and stay in a home. spcaLA Volunteers will be taught how to teach basic obedience, provide enrichment activities and correct common behavior problems.

Working with Dogs

  • Level 1
    You will learn the basic tools needed to enrich the lives of shelter dogs from outside their dens.
    Prerequisite: Volunteer Orientation
  • Level 2
    You will learn safe handling and basic dog training skills, so you may work with dogs in and out of their dens & take them through shelter dog classes like Adoption Academy™ (obedience), All-Star Agility™, and Hollywood Hounds™(tricks).
    Prerequisite: Level 1 class & 8 hours of Level 1 activities within 30 days
  • Level 3
    You will learn the skills necessary to assist with internal and external dog training classes, assist with AAT tests, mentor Level 1 & 2 volunteers and help with more in-depth dog training and more.
    Prerequisite: Level 2 class & 20 hours of Level 2 activities within six months
  • Level 4
    Perfect if you’re interested in pursuing a career in dog training! You will have the opportunity to teach internal and external group class and work side by side with the Animal Behavior and Training Department.
    Prerequisite: 40 hours as a Level 3 volunteer over a 6 month period, assist with testing and group classes, and complete a reading list.
  • Shelter Classes
    You will take our shelter dogs through one of our three 1-hour training classes; Adoption Academy™ (obedience), All-Star Agility™, and Hollywood Hounds™ (tricks). Our dogs will learn new skills while you perfect your dog handling skills!
    Prerequisite: Level 2 class
  • Grooming 101
    You will learn how to properly brush and bathe shelter pets.
    Prerequisite: Current Level 2 volunteer or higher

Working with Cats

  • Cat Care & Handling
    You will learn safe handling, care and enrichment activities for shelter cats.
    Prerequisite: Volunteer Orientation
  • Cat Clicker Class
    You will learn how to use a clicker to train our feline friends.
    Prerequisite: Cat Care & Handling class

Small Animals
Small Animal Care & Handling
You will learn how to work with pocket pets that come to our shelters.
Prerequisite: Volunteer Orientation

Other Training
Shelter Pet Photography
You will learn how to take beautiful, flattering pictures of shelter pets to help find them new homes.
Prerequisite: Volunteer Orientation (Note: dog handling must be done by a Level 2 or higher volunteer.)

Foster Class
You will learn about caring for a variety of animals in your home.
Prerequisite: Volunteer Orientation and approval by spcaLA staff upon the completion of a Foster application.

Humane Education
If you’re interested in working with youth during Friends for Life Summer & Spring camps, Teaching Love and Compassion (TLC)™ or Pet Care Workshops, you will receive specialized training from our Humane Education staff.
Prerequisites: Volunteer Orientation & Dog Training Level 2. Please note: those wishing to work with children will be required to clear a background check with and be fingerprinted by the Department of Justice.

Disaster Animal Response Team (DART)™
Volunteers selected for DART commit to attending a series of training and disaster simulation exercises.
Prerequisites: To be determined by volunteer task but may include Dog Levels Classes, Cat Care and Handling, Small Animal Care and Handling, and DART-specific training, in addition to Volunteer Orientation and approved application.