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Volunteer While You Work From Home

By Elizabeth Garrett Christensen
February 15, 2019

two puppies sitting on a couch

I’ve always been an animal lover. I’ve currently got a dog, two cats, bees, and a flock of chickens in my tiny suburban home and I would get more if I could. Over the past few years I’ve taken up an interest in fostering animals through our local animal shelter. Above are our current fosters, two St. Bernard mix parvo pups.

I’m always looking for opportunities to do something in the community but as a busy mom with a full-​time job, it can be difficult to fit volunteering into your schedule. What I’ve discovered is that animal fostering is a great volunteer job for someone that works from home.

How Does It Work?

Our local shelter has a list of foster volunteers who’ve completed their application process and requisite trainings. When they have an animal or group of animals that needs to be out of the shelter for a certain amount of time, they email everyone with a description of the foster. You review the information and decide if you’re a good fit.

We’re very lucky in that our local humane society provides all the food, bedding, medicine, and instruction you need. Your job is to take care of the animal or litter, report back to the shelter as needed, and return the animal when it is ready to be adopted by the community at large.


These two parvo puppies came to stay with us. Parvo is very contagious and affected animals have to be cared for outside the shelter for the other animals’ safety.

Snuggle Breaks

Animal fostering is a really nice way to give yourself breaks during the day. When I worked in the office, I always liked to make the rounds to the water cooler and chat with coworkers. Having animals around can help you combat some of the isolation and loneliness that comes from a solo remote office.

Just a few minutes of petting a kitten or playing fetch in your backyard with a bored pup is a nice break from work and can help you recharge your brain juices to tackle the next item on your to-do list.


This older bonded pair of dogs came to stay with us over the holidays when the shelter was overcrowded with other pets. They were such sweethearts and found a home just before Christmas.

Around-​the-​Clock Attention

Most of the foster animals need round-​the-​clock attention. Small bottle-​fed kittens need to be fed every few hours. Puppies need breaks for the bathroom, time playing, and need to be in and out of their kennel frequently. I’m already home all the time, so attention at various times of day is no big deal for me.


These itty bitties are one of several batches of foster kittens we’ve had. They all come underweight and shy and leave just when they’re big, healthy, and driving us nuts!

Schedule It Around Your Own Time

One thing I really like about animal fostering is the pace. There’s really only a commitment for each animal or set of animals that you take on for a few days or few weeks. If you’ve got a big work project to focus on, or can’t handle fostering for a few weeks, just take a break until a better time comes up.

You do need to account for the extra time you’ll spend throughout the day with your fosters and account for a longer work day. I already take a lot of breaks and end up working on and off for about 10–11 hours. Everyone is different, but I plan for about an hour longer in my work day to take my foster breaks.

Do some good!

The end result of some of my fostering adventures has been an overwhelming sense that I’ve done some good while I was literally just working from home. I’ve also learned a ton from the vets and staff about animal health and have quite a bit more behavior experience with different types of pet personalities as well.

remote-work community


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