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

COVID-19 UPDATE: We have placed a temporary pause on new volunteer on site training but we are still collecting new applications. We are doing monthly remote foster training if you wish to become a foster family for our shelter animals.  You can fill out an application here, Foster an Animal – Santa Cruz SPCA: Changing Lives, One Paw at a Time (spcasc.org). When we do resume on-site orientations after the first of the new year we will reach out to you.  At that time the guidelines listed below will change. Stay tuned for updates!

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 on hold due to COVID.  We will alert applicants when they are available again.
  • 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 $30 “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.

COVID-19 UPDATE: We have placed a temporary pause on new volunteer recruitment and training. When we do resume, the orientation guidelines listed below will change. Stay tuned for updates!

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

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.

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. 

COVID-19 UPDATE: We have placed a temporary pause on new volunteer recruitment and training. When we do resume, some of the FAQ’s listed below will change. Stay tuned for updates!

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. 

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. 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.

Shelter Location

2601 Chanticleer Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95065
(P) 831-465-5000
(F) 831-479-8530

Hours of Operation

Our operations are currently continuing virtually or by-appointment only. 

 *ADOPTIONS - Appointment Only

*PET FOOD PANTRY - Fridays 3:00pm - 5:00pm

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