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Does anyone volunteer groom at shelters?

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  • Does anyone volunteer groom at shelters?

    Hi everyone. I'm a student groomer who would like to gain as much hands on experience as possible, especially since I'm taking my courses online. I signed up for an informational meeting this Thursday for volunteering at our local SPCA. I've asked the coordinator if they need bathers/groomers...and the answer was a BIG YES!! She said they are always in desparate need of people to help these dogs and cats get cleaned up and and looking their very best so that they can hopefully be adopted. I've always wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter, but was always afraid to open my heart to this, because I know it's going to break over and over again. But I know I must put that aside to help the helpless. I'm sure there are some of you out there who help in this way...or perhaps have done so in the past. I need advice. If this is not the best way for me to gain the experience I need, please let me know. If you have any tips for me...anything at all...I would really appreciate it. I'd really like to do this...not only for myself, but for the animals. Thanks!

  • #2
    I have always groomed pets for local shelters/rescues for free. IT is more than 'practicing' it is about offering good old fashioned volunteering to help. Ive been in this business for over 30 yrs. I so love being able to help a pet get cleaned up so it can find a good home. Just remember, these pets can be very nervous, neglected or outright abused so be very slow and careful.


    • #3
      Volunteer at Heartland Humane Society in Oregon

      Hi there!
      I am a volunteer at Heartland Humane Society in Oregon and offer my grooming services to them. I understand that you are looking to gain experience in your grooming, but this would probably not be a good idea. The dogs and cats that are in these shelters are scared, undisciplined(the previous owners or lack of, did not teach manners) and can be aggressive to touching, clippers, etc. IF you will have an experienced groomer with you who will teach you how to groom that would be an excellent way to improve your skills. But to go in without instruction or guidance from an experienced groomer would only be asking for trouble in my opinion. You might want to start out with just the bath and basics and see how that works for you first, then try to groom. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of dogs who have been surrendered due to financial, illness,or other reasons of their otherwise perfectly good owners and they would be good candidates to "practice" on, but for the most part, I have to say, these dogs would be much better off with a groomer who is confident and experienced and can groom in a kind and gentle manner. Good luck with your new career, and I hope I have offered you the kind of advice that will promote your good judgment.


      • #4
        I have to agree with MobileGal, though rescue grooming is extremely rewarding it is quite dangerous.
        For example, the very first dog I did when I opened my own salon was a shih tzu from the local shih tzu rescue, his name was Dudley and he was terrified of clippers. Of course the rescue didn't know that at the time, just that he was all uneven and his face was long and needed a good trim. Well, Dudley bit me a total of 4 times, to times my hand got in the way of him "getting" the clipper, and twice I put my hand in front of his mouth so that he didn't chomp down on the moving blade. I ended up completely hand scissoring this dog and he feel asleep in my lap as I groomed his face. He was a total doll, and complete psycho, and if I didn't have the experience that I do I know that would have ended badly for both of us.
        My Blog: <a href="">In the Dogs' House Groomwise Blog</a>


        • #5
          I do volunteer grooming at my local SPCA. I say go for it but be aware most shelters do not have all the equipment needed, you may have to bring your own stuff. I see you are a student grooming, I think that is better than some of the volunteers with no grooming knowledge, shaving a dog with a 40.
          I was a bit hesitant at first, but after I got in there and started sprucing up some of the adoptables, they were adopted faster and that left room for more dogs and less got put down. just a simple bath and brush (short haired) can make all the difference for that dog. Just give it a try.....Good luck! There will be people there to help you.


          • #6
            I have groomed at shelters as a volunteer, I have had shelters drop animals at the shop for grooming at no charge, I have been a paid groomer at a shelter. All were exceptionally rewarding experiences. When I was first learning, it was a terrific tool to practice with. I gained skill, confidence and speed without pressure from making an "error". 90%+ of all dogs I groomed for/at shelters have found new, permanent homes. The reward far outweighs the heartbreak. Go for it...give a few extra dogs a fighting chance.


            • #7
              I too am a student...

              And the first thing that I did when I started grooming was call our Animal Rescue. They are a group of volunteers who foster the dogs, they do not have a building at all. So all the dogs that I do for them get dropped off at my home. I have done adorable, happy dogs and terrified, nervous dogs. There are all types of animals when you 'practice' thru an animal rescue. The one thing that I do appreciate is that I see more problems, such as skin disorders, etc that have already been diagnosised and treated, so I gain some experience in those types of issues. Our foster families cover 100% of the costs of each dog, so they deserve a break in costs too! I've already decided that I will always give free grooms to this group.


              • #8
                Call some of your local kennels, a lot of them have rescue dogs. I work at one and do free or discounted grooms for the rescues. They may need a dog bather for their clients and you can make a few dollars along with getting the experience. The kennel I work for hired me before I finished grooming school; I have gained experience with so many different dogs over a very short time.


                • #9
                  I too volunteer grooming at my local humane society. I'm lucky that I'm mobile, I just drive up and plug in. Today, I got a call to groom two Scotties that were tied outside for a year……….had to use a #10 to get through the mats, had to shave off ear tuffs, beard, furnishings, and legs……so this isn’t the “experience” you would want/ or need for grooming a client’s Scottie. However, the “good feeling” you get when you volunteer is the best “high” you will ever get! Just keep in mind that a lot of humane society dogs have been neglected and are usually covered with mats,….ie: shave downs :>( …….usually no room for “style”.

                  Happy volunteering with your #10 blade

                  Dolly’s Barking Bubbles, LLC


                  • #10
                    I, personally, found it very hard to volunteer at my local animal shelter. It has a high euthanize rate and after awhile I just couldn't stand it. Again, thats just me! What I do now is groom for a poodle rescue near (ish) to my home. The only reason my babies aren't there now every time I go in is if they've been adopted.
                    There are 3 different kinds of people in this world: Dog people, cat people, and rational people who don't have a problem liking two things at the same time.


                    • #11
                      I do free grooms on Mondays for the SPCA and other rescue groups.
                      "The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind"-Theodorus Gaza


                      • #12
                        I've been grooming shelter dogs for many, many years now. When I was going to grooming school I started with just plain volunteering with the shelter, walking the dogs, interacting with them, all facets of volunteering with the shelter. This was incredibly VALUABLE experience that I would suggest ALL newbie seeking groomers to do. It's helped me with my skill as a groomer.
                        One key to being able to groom dogs is being able to handle them and read certain key animal behaviorisms. Once you get that under your belt, it's something you'll be incredibly thankful for !
                        More groomers and even people at veterinary practices need to do this !!!

                        Okay, so for me, it's been trial and error. There have been some seriously scary dogs i've dealt with and some real shy sweethearts, but you have to learn your way and roll with the punches.

                        You have to learn to be very compassionate.
                        Understand that grooming these dogs will be very rewarding for both the dog and you.
                        It will be a good way to start people seeing what you can do.

                        Not ALL shelter dogs are scared or nasty.
                        I have groomed many, many sweet dogs that have ended up in shelters for one reason
                        or another.
                        Some have "lost their way"... getting out of the yard and their owners don't know how to find them so animal control picked the up, or the ones that are "owner surrenders" due to financial rough times, if the dog has medical issues to be addressed, new baby, moving, just about any reason.

                        I just groomed a dog that was found by animal control "wandering" in the bad part of town... they only hold for SEVEN days then euthanize.... but rescue groups and shelters do pull dogs from them. He's a sweet, beautiful, young little chocolate brown Cocker Spaniel and was a complete DOLL to groom !!

                        Also, it's wise to get some "personal" cards made up with your cell phone number, email address, and other things that mention your grooming... but NOT a "professional" grooming card. MANY people do this.

                        When I groom dogs at the shelter now, I attach one of my personal cards to their paperwork.
                        I've built up my own home grooming business by doing this.
                        Very often I get calls to groom these dogs.
                        Have your own equipment. It's a nice way to make some extra money down the road.

                        Hope some of this helps.