Volunteering – It’s Good for the Soul

Have you ever thought about volunteering but didn’t know how to start? What can you do to help? What is in it for me, you may ask?

Volunteering, as described in Wikipedia, “is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial or social gain to benefit another person, group or organization". For us veterinary nurses, the benefits are many. Not only for the owners or animals we may work with but for the nurses themselves. Skill development and putting knowledge to practical use is great for professional development, as is meeting new people and making new friends with similar interests.

There are many ways to volunteer – from joining a local not for profit group to travelling to a destination overseas whose animals are less fortunate, hands-on nursing, fundraising or other activities behind the scenes. These will depend on your skills and time available. The benefits for mental health and wellbeing by helping and making positive changes in the lives of other beings are priceless.

If you are interested in volunteering with animals, enquire at your local animal shelters, such as the RSPCA, Animal Welfare League or independent shelters. Jobs may include cleaning cages, preparing food, washing bedding, providing enrichment activities, walking dogs, or just some good old fashioned cat cuddling. Administration duties, fundraising or working in the charity shop is another valuable service if hands-on contact is not one of your skills.

If your interest lies in wildlife, consider joining a wildlife rescue group. For a yearly membership fee, you could be provided with training and mentorship. It is rewarding to work with our native birds and animals and you will learn about how to rescue, care and release. A few you could try include Fauna Rescue, Koala Rescue or 1300 KOALAZ - Adelaide Koala Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Release.

Safe Pets Safe Families provide a service to those in domestic violence situations by assisting with accommodation, fostering and veterinary care to allow pets and families to stay together. You can help with administration duties, animal transportation, marketing, participating in fundraising activities and pop up vet clinics, homeless outreach services or fostering a pet. Volunteering provides a valuable service to both vulnerable families and their beloved families.

South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM) Inc is a volunteer Response and Recovery agency working under Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) within the State Emergency Management Plan. SAVEM’s broad mission is to retrieve, assess, triage, shelter and treat animals of all species in an emergency incident. After training, volunteers are deployed alongside other agencies such as the CFS, Primary Industries and Regions SA, RSPCA and Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, during times of emergency such as bushfires. Volunteers are generally veterinarians, veterinary nurses and wildlife carers, but those with other skills who are prepared to train are also welcome. This work is not for the faint-hearted but is extremely rewarding.

Of course, there are many other organisations, such as Guide Dogs SA, Greyhound Adoption Program, Zoos, Friends of Parks, etc so find your passion and volunteer! Making a positive change to an area in which you are passionate about, gives a great sense of satisfaction. In short, helping others makes you happier.

Written by Belinda Battersby, Veterinary Nurse.

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