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

We are always accepting applications and You can sign up for upcoming Orientations on the Orientations tab.  Orientations are for potential volunteers who want to work on-site here at the shelter. 

If you want to become a foster parent for animals, we are doing monthly remote foster training, typically the last Monday of each month.  You can fill out an application here, Foster an Animal – Santa Cruz SPCA: Changing Lives, One Paw at a Time (spcasc.org).  

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.

The process to becoming a volunteer involves the following steps:

  • Fill out and submit our online Volunteer Application (see Volunteer Application tab).  We have begun regular orientations again on Saturdays, offered monthly.  You can message us anytime with questions at volunteer@spcasc.org
  • Sign up for an on-site Information Session and Orientation (find on the Orientations tab) telling you all about us, our program and what your opportunities are here as a volunteer. (2 hr)
  • Phone interview so we can discuss your wants and where to fit you in.
  • Remote Behavior and Handling learning in cats or dogs if you are working with specific animals.
  • Peer guide session (cats and dogs) or shadowing staff/volunteers depending on what role you will be working in.
  • Purchase a $30 “Volunteer Bundle.” This bundle includes your volunteer apron or SPCA t-shirt and name tag. The bundle must be purchased at “activation” (your first volunteer day) and worn whenever you volunteer for the SCSPCA.

Sign up for an Information Session/Orientation!

If you have not yet filled out an application, please do so by clicking the Volunteer Application tab next to the orientations tab!

Sign up for an Information Session/Orientation here!






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/t-shirt for $30, and ask that each volunteer wear it during any volunteer time. These apron/t-shirt /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?

We ask volunteers to try and commit to a regularly scheduled day (their choice), but we are also flexible about how volunteers can meet the minimum hours requirement. Within our volunteer management system (Volgistics), you are given the opportunity to self-select a schedule if you’d like. 

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 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.  The specific shifts for working directly with the dogs and cats each day are 8-10, 10-12, 12-2 and 2-4.

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 before resuming volunteer work with us.  To schedule a refresher activation, call our offices (831) 566-3753 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?

Contact us directly to find out if we are offering group orientation dates or dates when you can start the process on your own.

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

Yes, we do accept folks working off Court Ordered Community Service.  They are placed with our animal care team to do our Essential Shelter Help role which involves feeding and cleaning in the animal areas each morning (8-10) and evening (4-6).  We cannot accept folks who have a conviction for drugs, violence, animal abuse, weapon possession or forgery.

Shelter Location

2601 Chanticleer Ave.

Santa Cruz, CA 95065

(P) 831-465-5000 (F) 831-479-8530


Hours of Operation

Mon & Tues - CLOSED

Animal Browsing Wed to Sun 11am - 5pm

*PET FOOD PANTRY - Fridays 1:00pm - 3:00pm

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