From helping rescued animals find permanent homes to providing care for chimpanzees who have found sanctuary, there’s a volunteering venue for every animal lover. The greater Seattle area has amazing opportunities to enjoy purrs, woofs and whines of gratitude. Learn about rescued primates, horses, cats and dogs and fill your heart and soul with a sense of appreciation for all life.

Seattle Humane Society
13212 S.E. Eastgate Way
Bellevue, WA 98005
(425) 641-0080

The Humane Society for Seattle and King County has been helping animals in the greater Seattle area since 1897. In 2013, it adopted out a record 6,297 pets. Seattle Humane provides a wide range of programs, including dog training, humane education for all ages, veterinary services, adoptions, a pet food bank and volunteer opportunities for animal lovers. Volunteers can assist with foster care/adoptions, socializing and grooming shelter animals, cleaning and even participating in outreach activities, including events, education and fundraising. Seattle Humane’s website provides information on how to get started, including orientation dates. A six-month commitment is required, and all volunteers must be at least 18 years old.

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Burrito Chimpanzee eating squash outside at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. (Credit, Tracy Campion)

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest
P.O. Box 952
Cle Elum, WA 98922
(509) 699-0728

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest (CSNW) was founded in 2003 as a sanctuary for chimpanzees who were used in biomedical testing and entertainment. It is currently the home of seven chimpanzees collectively known as the “Cle Elum Seven.” The 26-acre sanctuary, which is only one of several in the U.S. providing care for chimpanzees, is nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, 90 miles east of Seattle. Volunteers are integral to CSNW’s work and they have a unique opportunity to see what it takes to run a sanctuary and get behind-the-scenes experience that wouldn’t normally be available. CSNW has three levels of volunteers: Level I volunteers who help with meal prep, washing kitchen produce, doing laundry and preparing enrichment; Level II volunteers, who help the staff clean the enclosures; and Level III, who are trained to interact directly with the chimpanzees. Volunteers learn about chimpanzee behavior, the unique personalities of the Cle Elum Seven and find great satisfaction in knowing that their work directly benefits the animals.

Rescued horses Cassie and Buttercup with a volunteer at Hope for Horses. (Credit, Tracy Campion

Hope For Horses
P.O. Box 1790
Woodinville, WA 98072
(360) 453-4040 Hope For Horses has an all-volunteer team that has helped hundreds of severely abused and neglected horses since 2001. Hope For Horses has also rescued a variety of other animals over the years, including donkeys, chickens, geese and a goat. Volunteers provide hands-on care for horses and other animals, including grooming, mucking stalls, foaling watch for at-risk mares, medical research, site visits, assistance with adoption and fostering. All volunteers must be 18 years old and the organization holds volunteering orientations on a regular basis. Those who have volunteered at Hope For Horses continue to stay on over the years, which is a testament to the organization’s dedication both to its rescued animals and to the people who help out.

Homeward Pet volunteer Gayle and Turbo, a dog rescued from a hoarding case. (Credit, Tracy Campion)

Homeward Pet
13132 N.E. 177th Place
Woodinville, WA 98072

Homeward Pet Adoption Center (HPAC) is one of the Seattle area’s largest no-kill nonprofit animal shelters, and has been helping animals and providing volunteer opportunities since 1990. Homeward Pet’s volunteers help with various programs, including animal rescue and transfer, adoption, community awareness and foster care. Last year, Homeward Pet helped 1,690 cats and dogs find their permanent homes. Volunteers begin with orientation and then classes, with some positions requiring multiple classes and on-the-job training. A three-month minimum commitment is required. Volunteer opportunities include dog care (minimum age of 18), cat care (minimum age of 16), street team, where volunteers maintain donation barrels and post flyers (minimum age 16 or work with a parent or guardian), and reception, where volunteers welcome visitors to Homeward Pet (minimum age 18). Homeward Pet volunteers often stay with the organization for years, feeling a strong sense of compassion and connection with the animals and a sense of camaraderie with staff/fellow volunteers.

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Purrfect Pals cat (Credit, Tracy Campion)

Purrfect Pals
230 McRae Road N.E.
Arlington, WA 98223
(360) 652-9611 ex. 11

Purrfect Pals, which was founded in 1988, is the Pacific Northwest’s largest cat-only adoption sanctuary and organization. And it’s one of the largest cat-only sanctuaries in North America as well. While the sanctuary is located in Arlington, there are volunteer opportunities throughout the state, including at area PetSmart and PetCo locations. Purrfect Pals finds home for more than 2,000 cats each year and volunteers are integral to its work. Volunteers provide TLC for rescued cats looking for permanent homes and they can staff special events as well. Purrfect Pals asks for a five-month commitment and volunteers must commit to one-, two- or three-hour shifts per week.

Tracy Campion is a freelance writer covering all things Seattle. Her work can be found on