Meet Jessica, an Idaho teen who volunteers with the Idaho Humane Society.

Jessica’s love for animals got her into hot water more than a few times when she was younger. The then-tween would secretly arrange to take free dogs from Craigslist—much to the surprise of Jessica’s mom, who would arrive home to find an unfamiliar furry face.

“I think the first dog was a bigger dog,” Jessica says ruefully. “Maybe if I had gotten a smaller one, I probably would’ve been allowed to keep it.”

It’s not like Jessica never had a dog. She grew up with several, and loved taking care of them. Her mom has told her that she used to pretend to be a vet when she was a toddler. Using a wheeled toy as her pet patient, Jessica would “fix it up,” and check it out with a stethoscope.

About four years ago, Jessica’s aunt was on the lookout for something the two could do together, and they decided to try volunteering at the Idaho Humane Society. They began volunteering once a week, and Jessica continues to do so today; in addition to her weekly commitment, she helps out at special events like See Spot Walk and rattlesnake training. Her shelter duties include walking dogs and helping people find their perfect companion.

One of the biggest benefits Jessica has realized from volunteering is a significant confidence boost. Painfully shy for most of her childhood, Jessica recalls school being very overwhelming.

“I would sit in the back of the class and shake if anyone tried to talk to me,” she said. “I didn’t ever want to go to school.”

Being around the animals soothes her, Jessica said. And talking to potential adoptive families about something she’s passionate about—animals—has helped her come out of her shell. She’s much more talkative now and has developed strong friendships with other volunteers. In fact, she met her best friend at the shelter and the two girls try to coordinate their schedules to volunteer together.

Jessica’s experience at the Idaho Humane Society is also positively impacting her future decisions. She now knows for sure she wants to be a vet, and that’s an incentive to focus on her schoolwork to make it happen.

“When I come here, I feel less stressed out.”


Animal Volunteer Opportunities
Find a volunteer program for your teen or tween.

If your child enjoys horses and other farm animals, try your local 4-H.

Additionally, the Bureau of Land Management and 4-H work with youth aged 12-18 to train young wild horses, helping to increase the adoptability of these animals. Learn more.

American Heritage Wildlife Foundation (Sandpoint)
Birds of Prey Northwest (Coeur d’Alene)
Hope’s Haven Animal Shelter (St. Maries)
Humane Society of the Palouse (Moscow)
Kootenai Humane Society (Hayden)
Mystic Farms Wildlife Rescue (Sagle)
Panhandle Animal Shelter (Ponderay)
Priest River Animal Rescue

Mountain Humane (Hailey)

Animals in Distress
Fuzzy Paws Rescue (Minimum age is 18.)
Idaho Humane Society
McPaws (McCall)
Meridian Valley Humane Society
Mountain Home Animal Shelter
MK Nature Center
The Rat Retreat
Simply Cats Adoption Center
West Valley Humane Society
Zoo Boise ZooTeen Program

Magic Valley Humane Society (Twin Falls)

Bannock Humane Society (Pocatello)
Zoo Idaho

Heart of Idaho Animal Sanctuary (Challis)
Idaho Falls Animal Shelter