Welcome to our volunteer page! We have many different opportunities for you to get involved with Heart of the Valley. If you are an adult (over 16 years old) looking for a volunteer commitment to work with our shelter dogs and cats, please take a look at the PAW Program tab. For our Junior Volunteer Program, also working with shelter dogs and cats, please look our Juniors tab.

For families or individuals looking to foster puppies and kittens, you will find more information by navigating to the Foster tab below.

Additional Volunteer Programs include Group Volunteer Projects (over 16 years old and commit to 4 hours of time), Service Learning Projects (students needing volunteer time or to conduct an interview), and Court Ordered Community Service.

Our Just For Kids tab will route to a page containing information for Pet Pals Summer Camp, Humane Education Lessons and Birthday Parties.

For volunteers age 16+ who want to work with the shelter’s cats and dogs. This program requires a high level of commitment but tremendous rewards! The PAW program will provide you with the knowledge and skills to make a difference in the lives of homeless pets in our community. The PAW program is made up of four PAW levels based on hours of service. At each level, you will be provided with the tools to help with compassionate animal care, operational support and animal enrichment. Please read through the description of the PAW Program before completing a volunteer application. Applications can be found further down on this page. 

Heart of the Valley believes that humane education yield lifelong benefits. The Junior Volunteer program is for animal loving kids ages 6-15 with a designated parent or guardian. 

  • Cat Cuddling: Juniors and their parent/guardian will attend hands on training to understand cat body language and enrichment activities for the cats.
  • Canine Story Time: Juniors and their parent/guardian will attend training to learn the enrichment activity of reading to dogs.

In foster care, young animals have a chance to grow, injured or sick animals have the opportunity to heal, under-socialized animals learn to trust, and all animals get the love, care and comforts of home so they can start their next chapter of life on the right paw! Foster care for kittens and puppies not yet old enough for surgery is definitely our biggest need at HOV, but there is also opportunity for adult animal fostering as well.

Our foster program at Heart of the Valley plays a crucial role in the general wellbeing of all the animals at the shelter. When you foster, not only are you giving a loving and comfortable home to the animal/s in your care, but you are also freeing up shelter resources, including staff and volunteer time, that can now be dedicated to the animals not in foster care. Every animal at the shelter benefits from fostering. It is truly lifesaving work!

You don’t have to be an animal expert to join our team. If you have a love for animals, a willingness to learn, and a little extra room in your heart and home, we can help with the rest!

How long is the foster care commitment?

The length of foster care varies from animal to animal and can be anywhere from an overnight to multiple months. We are happy to work with you and find appropriate animals that fit your household and schedule.

What are the requirements to be a foster parent?

Prospective foster parents complete an online application. Once submitted, our Animal Services Coordinator will contact you to set up a time to attend a Foster Orientation. Once completed, you’re ready to start saving lives!

What expenses can a foster parent can expect?

Heart of the Valley will happily supply all supplies, medical care and support you will need to successfully foster our animals. We do not require foster parents to purchase supplies but graciously accept the purchase of such as donations if you should choose to do so.

I have pets at home. Is this okay?

Yes! This is no problem; however, for their own protection, we do require that your pets are up-to-date on all their vaccines before fostering.

Do I need a large space to house my foster animals?

No. The space you do have available will most likely be larger than the kennel they would have here at the shelter, plus the extra love and attention is invaluable. We also have gates and enclosures available to help create a suitable place if needed. Our Animal Services Coordinator will be happy to consult with you and help you find an appropriate place to keep your foster animals in your home.

Click here to apply!

For more information, please contact:

Robin Gauss
Animal Services Coordinator
(406) 388-9399 ext. 204

Questions? Contact the Volunteer and Outreach Manager: Kristin Sherwood
volunteer@heartofthevalleyshelter.org or (406) 404-3068

Interested in volunteering at Heart of the Valley? Follow a couple quick steps to get started:

  • Read about the PAW Program, Junior Volunteer Program or Foster Program
  • Read through the Additional Volunteer Programs section if you are needing court ordered community service, wanting to do a group volunteer day or needing to complete a service project.
  • Complete a Volunteer Application (below)
  • Attend New Volunteer Orientation. Orientation will be scheduled after submitting your volunteer application.
  • Once you’ve attended orientation, you can now take training classes to be able to work with our shelter dogs and cats!
  • If joining our Foster Program, our Animal Services Coordinator will be in touch with you to schedule foster orientation.
PAW Program Application:

For volunteers 16 years and older wanting to work with our shelter dogs and cats and assist with shelter operations.

Click here to apply!

Junior PAW Program Application:

For volunteers 6 to 15 AND their designated parent or guardian. ALL PARENT/GUARDIANS MUST ALSO COMPLETE A “JUNIOR PAW PROGRAM” APPLICATION.

Click here to apply!

Foster Program Application:

For volunteers looking to join our foster program. Our biggest foster needs are for puppies and kittens.

Click here to apply!

Group Volunteering:

Your business or organization can volunteer together at Heart of the Valley! Single days of service can be arranged for groups of 5 or more. Group volunteers assist with operational support and will receive a tour of the shelter and will meet shelter animals at the end of their volunteer shift. All volunteers must be at least 16 years old.

Please complete the Group Volunteer Application here.

Service Learning Projects:

If you are a student looking for hands on volunteering or an interview with one of our staff members, please take a look at our Service Learning Projects page. While we love to help students we cannot accommodate every request we receive. For hands on volunteer projects we require a minimum of 4 hours and you must be at least 16 years old. 

Service Learning Projects Page


Court Ordered Community Service:

Minimum age for Community Service Volunteers is 18 years old. Volunteers must contact the Volunteer and Outreach Manager for approval of application. All service hours are subject to availability. There is a zero tolerance policy for missed shifts. Community Service volunteer opportunities are limited to grounds work and operational support. 

Please complete the Court Ordered Community Service Volunteer Application here. 

Questions? Contact the Volunteer and Outreach Manager: Kristin Sherwood
volunteer@heartofthevalleyshelter.org or (406) 404- 3068

How old do I have to be to volunteer?

  • Junior Volunteers must be between 6 and 15 years old and be accompanied by a designated parent or guardian. Adult PAW Program volunteers must be at least 16 years old.

I’m a part of a group who would like to volunteer together. Can we help out at Heart of the Valley?

  • Single days of service can be arranged for groups of 5 to 20. Schedules dependent on availability and current needs. Complete the Group Volunteer Application to schedule your volunteer opportunity.

My child really loves animals and we’d like to volunteer together at Heart of the Valley. How can we help? 

  • As with all new volunteers, Junior Volunteers age 6-15 years old must attend a New Volunteer Orientation – along with the designated parent or guardian who will be sharing in the volunteer experience.

I’m age 16 or older and want to work with the our shelter pets. What sort of training does it involve?

  • All volunteers age 16 or older who want to work with cats or dogs at the shelter become members of the PAW Program. Everyone begins by attending a New Volunteer Orientation. After attending orientation, each volunteer signs up for a small group, hands-on, animal handling session. These trainings provide you with all the tools you need to succeed as a volunteer.

I need to complete court ordered community service hours. Can I complete them at Heart of the Valley?

  • Yes – Community Service volunteers are a big help at the shelter. All Community Service volunteers are pre-screened and MUST be 18 years of age or older. We do not accept violent or theft related offenses. Contact the Volunteer and Outreach Manager for more information.