Giving your time and energy to animals through the Santa Cruz SPCA can be an exceptionally satisfying activity. Just ask any volunteer who’s walked an exuberant shelter dog, coaxed a new shelter cat out of her shell, or watched a family connect with and adopt a shelter pet.

Volunteers are a valued and essential part of our organization, extending the capacity for our paid staff to rescue and care for hundreds of animals each year. Volunteers perform a wide variety of tasks. Experience them all or specialize in one or two.

If you have any questions about volunteering, please send us an email or call us at 831-465-5000. We look forward to working with you!

Volunteer Positions Available:

  • Canine TLC and Exercise
  • Feline TLC and Socialization
  • Dog Bathing and Grooming
  • Foster Care
  • Community Event Support
  • Development Support
  • General Animal Care
  • Clerical Assistant
  • Maintenance/Landscape Support
  • Mall Gift Shop Volunteer

To become a general volunteer with the SCSPCA you will need to:

  • Be 16 years of age or older. We are unable to accept general volunteers under the age of 16, even when accompanied by an adult, due to firm insurance policy restrictions. However, we do have Youth Volunteer Programs for animal ambassadors under the age of 16.
  • Fill out and submit our online Volunteer Application (see Volunteer Application tab). 
  • Sign up for and attend a Volunteer Orientation. Orientations are held typically on the FIRST Monday of each month at 4 pm and the FIRST Saturday of each month at 9:30 am (make sure to check the registration page as the above is not always the case!) at our Capitola Mall Adoption Center and Gift Shop in the Target wing. Please arrive promptly.
  • Schedule an “activation” day (first volunteer day). Scheduling an “activation” day will happen during the orientation. On your “activation” day, you will be paired with a staff member or experienced volunteer to give you a tour of the shelter, introduce the volunteer handbook, teach you shelter basics, and answer any questions you may have. For those of you interested in volunteering at the mall location, your “activation” day with be scheduled at the mall store and coordinated with the mall supervisor.
  • Purchase a $25 “Volunteer Bundle.” This bundle includes your volunteer apron and name tag. The bundle must be purchased at “activation” (your first volunteer day) and worn whenever you volunteer for the SCSPCA.  Volunteers can also purchase SPCA gear from our Mall Adoption Shop.

Now that you’ve filled out and submitted our volunteer application, it’s time to sign up for an orientation!

Orientations are held twice a month, typically the FIRST Monday (4pm) and Saturday (9:30 am) of each month (check the registration page as this is not always the case!) at our Capitola Mall Adoption Center and Gift Shop in the Target wing. The duration of the orientation is about 30 to 45 minutes.

Please note that orientations fill up quickly so scheduling yourself as far in advance as possible is helpful in ensuring a spot is open on your desired date. If the orientation date you desire is full, you must register for an alternate date . We can only accommodate a set number of attendees.

The Santa Cruz SPCA is always seeking dedicated and reliable volunteers for our satellite location within the Capitola Mall, which offers animals for adoption as well as a variety of apparel, jewelry, local art, and pet supplies for sale. This high-traffic retail setting gives us a wonderful opportunity to interact with and educate our community about who we are and what we do.

To become an SCSPCA Mall Store Volunteer you’ll need to:


  • Meet all general volunteer requirements for SCSPCA volunteers (see the Becoming a Volunteer tab).
  • Fill out and submit the online Volunteer Application (see the Volunteer Application tab).
  • Attend a general volunteer orientation (see the Orientation tab). During the general orientation, mention to the orientation representative that you are interested in volunteering at the mall location so they can put you in contact with our mall location supervisor, after you’ve completed orientation.
  • Schedule an “activation” day at the mall store. This is where you will receive a more in-depth, hands-on, volunteer training session.
  • Be willing to stick to a set schedule. Because this is a retail space managed by only one staff member, obtaining volunteers who are able to commit to a set schedule is extremely helpful. All volunteers who decide to focus their efforts at the Mall Store should create a schedule and do their best to be as reliable as possible with those days and times.

    Mall Store Hours

    Wednesday through Sunday
    11am – 5:30pm

    CLOSED on Mondays, Tuesdays, and the following holidays:

    New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve Day, and Christmas Day

    Positions Available:

    Animal Transport

    Volunteer transporters are needed to bring animals to the mall location in the morning (1 hour before opening) and bring animals back to the shelter in the evening (1 hour before closing). Crates are provided. Volunteers may choose to provide transport for either AM only, PM only, or both. Proof of valid Driver’s License, Auto Insurance, and a signed Driver Waiver required.

    Animal Care and Adoption Assistant

    Volunteers at the adoption center will have a variety of opportunities to love on and care for our adoptable pets as well assist in their adoptions!

    A few examples of what mall volunteers can do to help:

    • Prepare animal enclosures in the morning with bedding, food, water, toys, and litter boxes, etc.
    • Clean and sanitize all animal enclosures in the evening and remove bedding, food, water, and toys.
    • Ensure that all animal enclosures are consistently clean and always have fresh water throughout the day. This involves cleaning out puppy pens and adult dog play pens, scooping cat litter, changing water, etc.
    • Take dogs on walks and potty breaks.
    • Answer basic questions about the animals’ behavior, health and history (information/training will be provided)
    • Greet the public as they enter the adoption center and assist them in finding a match if they are looking for a specific size, breed, age, and type of animal, or referring them to an employee if needed.
    • Take photos of newly adopted pets and their families.
    • Assist in dog-to-dog meetings between adoptable dogs and dogs currently living in the potential adopter’s home.
    Retail and Sales

    While we’ve always got adorable animals, the store also has an impressive array of retail items that range from branded merchandise to pet toys and supplies. Our volunteers help organize and create displays, calculate inventory, work the cash register, and most importantly, help shoppers find what they want and need.

With this online sign-in system, you can:

  • Sign in from home (fosters), events, and outings.
  • Check or maintain information such as your address, phone number, and email address.
  • Check and print your schedule, sign-up for schedule openings, and alert Santa Cruz SPCA to times you cannot serve as scheduled.
  • Post your hours, and view and print your past service information.
  • Check the progress toward the completion of your mandatory service.
  • Receive messages.

*To sign in, use the email address you registered with and then click the “Need a Password?” link. A temporary password will be sent to your email and you can then reset your password. 

My child is under 16. Can they come with me to volunteer if I am there to supervise?

Due to the nature of the work we do as well as strict insurance and liability issues, we are unable to have volunteers under the age of 16 performing general volunteer duties — even with a parent supervisor. However, we do offer a few youth volunteer programs designed specifically for younger animal lovers.

Do I have to buy a volunteer bundle?

We require each volunteer to purchase a volunteer bundle, which includes a name tag and apron, and ask that each volunteer wear it during any volunteer time. These apron/name tag combos play the important role of identifying our volunteers to the visiting public as well as to staff members. The apron also helps protect clothing, and the pockets allow a place to store shelter necessities such as leashes, treats, and potty bags.  You may also purchase SPCA Gear at our Capitola Mall Adoption Shop.

I’m already a volunteer at the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter. Do I still need to go through the orientation process with you?

Because we are two separate organizations with very different environments, policies, and procedures, it’s important that any new volunteer complete our orientation process regardless of prior shelter experience.

Do I need to stick to a set volunteer schedule or can I just come when I want?

While it’s helpful to anticipate the help of volunteers, we do not require you to keep a set schedule unless you are a volunteer with the SCSPCA Mall Adoption Center and Gift Shop. Of course, within our volunteer management system (Volgistics), you are given the opportunity to self-select a schedule if you’d like. Otherwise you are welcome to volunteer any time during our open hours.

What’s the earliest I can come to volunteer and what’s the latest I can stay?

Volunteers typically lend us their time between the hours of 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.. However, we can usually accommodate animal care volunteers as early as 9 a.m. if scheduled with staff.

Can I still volunteer when you’re closed on Mondays and holidays?

Yes! Even when we are closed, staff and animals are here and would LOVE volunteer help. Duties and hours would generally be the same as for any normal day of business.

I was a volunteer with the SCSPCA a long time ago but have not been in to help in a while. Can I just come back and start up again?

Things are always changing, so we ask that any volunteer who has been inactive for 6-plus months come in for a refresher “activation” day before resuming volunteer work with us. However, you are not required to attend another orientation. To schedule a refresher activation, call our offices (831) 465-5000 for a list of available dates and times.

If I can’t make the orientation dates or if the orientation is full, what do I do?

To accommodate more people, we have recently added a second orientation each month. However, we are unable to change or add to these dates. If you aren’t able to make the orientation dates or the orientation is full, you will need to wait for the next available date.

I need to fulfill court-ordered community service. Can I do that with the SCSPCA?

We welcome most court-ordered community service with proper documentation. However, we cannot accept community service hours for violations involving: theft, drugs, acts of violence, forgery, sexual offenses, or crimes involving weapons.

 Main Shelter Location

2685 Chanticleer Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95065
(P) 831-465-5000
(F) 831-479-8530

Hours of Operation

Tues - Sun: 11am to 6pm

The Santa Cruz SPCA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals. We receive no government funding, and depend solely on financial support from our friends. Our organization is not affiliated with any other SPCA or Humane Society.

Tax ID: 94-6171565

© 2017 Santa Cruz SPCA

Mall Adoption Center & Gift Shop

1855 41st Ave. (Near Target Wing)
Capitola, CA 95010
(P) 831-477-7886

Hours of Operation

Wed - Sun: 11am - 5:30pm