Animal Allies is equipped with rows of kennels filled with dogs and furnished rooms of cat toys, complete with families of kittens.
At any point in time Animal Allies is at full capacity of cats and dogs, and only survives due to approximately 300 volunteers.
“It’s a huge part of our organization, we wouldn’t be able to operate without them,” volunteer coordinator Hannah Wiberg said.
Wiberg’s job is to train and find new volunteers, as well as manage existing ones.
Since Animal Allies is a non-profit, volunteers are heavily relied upon, needed and respected at Animal Allies.
Some volunteers are dog walkers, adoption assistants, committee members for special events and foster families. The foster families keep animals at their homes until a permanent home can be found for them.
“That’s what the biggest draw is, working with the animals,” Wiberg said. “Which is great, but we need to make sure that they are using safety precautions.”
Wiberg said the volunteering training is so extensive, about four hours, because safety can be such a large issue with the animals.
Though the training might be a bit time-consuming, most volunteers don’t deny that it is even more rewarding.
Cindi Butcher, is a retiree and has been a volunteer at Animal Allies for three years. She started as a dog walker, and now is also an adoption assistant. Her job entails talking with potential owners to find the perfect animal for them.
“People always ask ‘how can you volunteer and don’t you want to take them home?’ but we’re a non-kill shelter and they’re here as long as they need, so it’s just so rewarding to see them go home,” Butcher said.
However she has fallen for dogs there before. She has two dogs, one that came from Animal Allies.
Volunteers are there for all sorts of reasons and vary across the board in age.
Wiberg said a lot of volunteers are students who had to leave their pets when they came to college and they just want an animal to play with.
Student, or retiree there are other reasons why volunteering at Animal Allies is so alluring.
“The volunteers just really want to help the animals,” Wiberg said. “It’s very therapeutic for them to work with the animals everyday and to see them.”
While a lot of volunteer work can be tedious, Wiberg said the perk to volunteering at Animal Allies is that you truly do just get to work with cats and dogs.
Animal Allies can always have more volunteers. To volunteer call, 218-623-6343 or to visit the animals head to Animal Allies at 4006 Airport Rd, Duluth MN. Also, visit their website here.