Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Animal Services. Volunteers help directly care for the shelter animals and perform a variety of tasks such as adoption counseling, enrichment, grooming, photography, and community outreach. In order to become a volunteer the first step is to complete a volunteer application  and then attend the next Volunteer Open House Information Session.


Onboarding process:

  • Complete and submit a Volunteer Application
  • Respond to the confirmation email you will receive.
  • RSVP and attend an Open House Information Session
  • Partner with a staff member for general training
  • Partner with a current volunteer for hands-on animal training
  • Confirm your weekly schedule and help us care for homeless animals!

The process to volunteer with cats and rabbits at the Santa Barbara Shelter is handled by our nonprofit partners.
Please contact them for more information or to sign up.

For Cats:  call Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) at 683-3368

For Rabbits:  call Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter (BUNS) at 683-0521

B.A.R.K. 4 Life Shelter Reading Program

Program Overview
B.A.R.K. 4 Life Shelter Reading Program gives youth between the ages of 6-17 the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals at the local County Animal Services Shelter in Santa Maria. B.A.R.K. 4 Life stands for Books, Animals, Reading, and Kids. Bringing these four things together can make a difference the lives of those two and four legged.
A shelter volunteer or staff person will be on site throughout the scheduled reading times. These Program Leads will be identified by a royal blue volunteer shirt.   B.A.R.K. 4 Life began in the summer of 2016. Participants can sign up for twenty minute sessions of reading to the dogs, cats, rabbits, or other species during designated times  throughout the week.
The main objective of this program is to create a calm shelter environment that helps with socializing the animals and improves the literacy skills of the participants. The intention is to reduce the stress of the animals during their stay with us while improving self-esteem and teaching empathy to the participants. 

Who can join the B.A.R.K. 4 Life Program 
This program is designed for local youth between the ages of 6 and 17 years of age and are unable to volunteer regularly. Any youth that is interested in reading aloud to the shelter pets may be selected for this program. This program would be helpful to any youth who is having trouble with their reading skills, needs to collect reading hours, feels nervous about reading aloud, is in need of community service hours, is passionate about making a difference in the lives of shelter pets, or is just looking for a fun, new way to spend their time after school. 

When is this program available
This program is offered Monday through Friday from 2:30pm-4:30pm. All visits must be scheduled in advance through our Volgistics Program . For children between the ages of 6 and 12 years, a parent/guardian must be on site during all visits. Please call (805) 934-6981 or e-mail mailto:stacy.silva@sbcphd.org?subject=B.A.R.K 4 Life for more information or to schedule your sessions.