Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities

Since our inception in 1993, the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit (FAMD) has relied on dedicated volunteers to operate. In order to serve the 2,500 animals who come through our doors each year, volunteer assistance is essential to provide care and attention, as well as raise funds and awareness in the community.

Here are a few examples of the ways you can help:

In-Shelter Help: From washing dishes to clicker training cats and dogs to counseling potential adopters, we have many roles available for you to work directly with the animals! There is always a need for your help at our facility.

Off-Site Adoptions: Show off deserving cats at one of our Petco or PetSmart cat centers, or help cats and dogs find forever homes at offsite events. Volunteer at our two large tent adoption events each summer to participate in dozens of happy endings at once! Help us showcase our animals at various venues around town.

Fundraising: Assist our development team to bring in life-saving funds by working at fundraising events, managing a donation canister location, making thank-you calls, and more. Bonus: Each May, many volunteers are needed for our Mutt Strut Walk and Pet Expo, one of our largest fundraisers and a very popular volunteer opportunity!

Community Outreach: Help FAMD to raise awareness of shelter services and companion animal issues by manning a booth at local events, or giving presentations for local school and community groups. Take a shelter dog and you’ll be an instant hit!

Foster: Temporarily bring an animal into your home and heart! Take home a nursing mom and her litter, or care for an animal recovering from an illness or injury. Can’t commit to a longer-term foster? No problem! Try our Slumber Party, and give an adoptable dog an overnight break from the shelter. You can also “foster” interest by promoting an animal through social media, work, or school via our iFoster program.

Ready to sign up? It’s easy! Click here to fill out a Volunteer application and sign up for orientation.

Volunteer Testimonials

“Volunteering at the shelter has really impacted my life. I really love animals! I feel like every animal deserves a loving home and they don’t have a voice of their own so I volunteer and advocate on their behalf! A person really has the opportunity to change a pet’s life but what they actually do to change ours is immeasurable: they are the most loyal companions. They just need to be given a chance to show it!”
– Christina B., Offsite & Community Outreach Volunteer

“Volunteering at the Dearborn Animal Shelter gives us all the opportunity to support our community, make a positive difference in the lives of animals, and provide care for our four footed friends in need of adoption.”
– Ahmed A., Pit Crew Volunteer

“I always look forward to giving some of my time to the Dearborn Animal Shelter. It’s great to see the kids I work with get into the projects and how they enjoy spending time with the animals. It’s also nice to know that we are helping some very sweet animals feel more comfortable during their wait for their forever homes.”
– Kelsey T., Volunteer Mentor for FAMD Youth Program

Become a Volunteer

Thank you for your interest in volunteering for the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit.

Many different opportunities are available, both hands-on and behind the scenes. Here are some of the many reasons why volunteering is a fun and rewarding experience:

  • Spend time with adoptable cats and dogs—fun for you, and beneficial for them!
  • Help homeless dogs and cats to find their forever homes and families.
  • Meet other people who share your passion for animals.
  • Learn valuable skills that could translate to animal-related careers or hobbies.
  • Earn community service hours for school or work.
  • Make a difference for two- and four-legged citizens in your local community.

We are looking for team members with a passion for animals and customer service, who can maintain a regular volunteering schedule for at least six months. We offer training, flexibility, and a variety of opportunities to match your interests.

Ready to get started? Wonderful! Complete a volunteer application, found on the right side of this page, and select an orientation date.

For more information, please contact our Volunteer department, at 313-943-2697 x3555 or volunteers@metrodetroitanimals.org.

Note: Court-ordered community service hours are available through a separate program. Call the shelter during normal business hours for more information. 313-943-2697, then press 1.

Get Started

Step 1: Apply

We require that all new volunteers complete a Volunteer Application and pre-register for a volunteer orientation. Complete the application and register for orientation using the link provided:

Please note: Our popular youth program is currently at capacity! Children ages 12-15 are able to join the adult program along with a parent or guardian who will volunteer with them. You can also check out the Other Ways to Help tab for projects you can do at home.

APPLICANTS AGES 12 – 17 ONLY: Your parent or guardian must also sign the Volunteer Release and Save Harmless Agreement. Print a copy and bring to the orientation. Copies will also be available at orientation. YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO VOLUNTEER UNTIL THE SIGNED FORM IS TURNED IN.

Step 2: Review the Handbook

Review the appropriate volunteer handbook. You need not print it, but might want to refer to it online from time-to-time.

Becoming a Foster Parent

The Friends depend on many volunteers to help care for the animals that come through our doors each year. One of the most honored volunteer roles is becoming a foster parent for our companion animals. These parents are our satellite heroes. Foster families provide temporary animal housing for a number of reasons: some animals need extra attention because they are very young; others need to learn human interaction skills; and, in some cases, we are simply overflowing at our facility.

How does fostering help the shelter?

It provides safe, loving homes for temporary care of animals who can be successfully adopted, but are not yet ready to move into the adoption process. Many times, young kittens or puppies are just too small for adoption. Other times a scared dog or cat who was stray or abandoned needs to learn to trust humans again before finding their forever homes. Finally, foster homes allow us to care for many more animals than our limited structure would allow each year, giving us the chance to save more animals.

Who can become a Foster Parent?

The Friends welcome all volunteers who want to open their home to help foster animals. All types and sizes of homes and family circumstances are needed. Sometimes it is important that there are other animals in the home, sometimes it is important that there are not. Many of our foster families have children, many do not. Each situation is examined uniquely and matched according to the best opportunity for success.

In addition to helping homeless animals, this is a great avenue for your family to determine if one day you and your family want to adopt into your home.

How can you become a Foster Parent?

Consider if you or your family is interested in helping animals by providing temporary loving shelter for them and helping them move on to succeed as companion animals in their forever homes.

Complete our foster application and a brief screening with shelter staff. Animals are placed with successful foster applicants according to their individual requirements and shelter capacity. Some foster situations last only days, others may span several months. It varies for each situation and animal need. All aspects are discussed carefully with you before placement.

The shelter assumes responsibility for the foster animal’s medical care and food. The foster family provides encouragement, guidance, and love.

Apply Today

Apply Online

Complete our Foster Volunteer Application today to start the process of becoming a foster parent.

You can alternatively download and complete this PDF version of our Foster Volunteer Application. Once you have filled out the PDF application, submit it via:

Fax: 313-943-2262,
Attn: Heather Mehi

Email: Heather Mehi,

Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit
Attn: Heather Mehi
2661 Greenfield Rd
Dearborn, MI 48120

Drop it off:
At the above address
Attn: Heather Mehi


What is iFoster?

iFoster-screen-captureA virtual campaign to help find homes for our adoptable pets. You agree to iFoster and we assign you a pet. Share about that pet in any of your virtual communications, email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, even talking to friends at a party, anywhere you post or go.  We also have business cards and flyer templates you can print off for your iFoster.

Let your circle of friends know about our adoptables. When the pet gets adopted, we contact you and ask if you will help us with another one. iFoster as long as you want and as often as you want.

Just think of it, if 20 people choose to iFoster and they each know 200 people, and they in turn each know 200 people, each animal’s possibility of getting adopted just increased 40,000 times. You really can make a difference.

Browse our Adoptable Animals to get started! Look for this button:  iFoster Me

Get Started!

  • Browse our Adoptable Animals and click on the one you want to iFoster. There’s a purple button that says iFoster. Click on that to sign up to iFoster that animal.
  • You will have access to clickable tools that will allow you to share about your iFoster on social media and email.
  • Personalize your messages, make them fun, so they sound like you and ask people to adopt or share your message. Include hashtag #ifosteranimals in every social media post so we can track the volume of iFoster activity.
  • When the pet is adopted, you will receive an email update from us and asking if you will iFoster another pet.
  • Say yes as often as you want.
  • You are also welcome to iFoster more than one pet at a time.

Pit Crew: Our Dogs’ Best Friends

The Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit’s Pit Crew is a specially trained team of volunteers who work with all of our shelter dogs in order to enrich their lives while under our care, help increase their adoptability, and teach them new skills to stay in their forever homes. This includes special work with our adoptable “bully-breed” dogs as part of our Recycl-A-Bullz program, to create a positive image of these dogs in the community.

Pit Crew volunteers help our dogs:

  • Stay physically and mentally healthy while they wait at the shelter for a forever home.
  • Socialize with people and other dogs so they succeed at being great family companions.
  • Attain Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) certification.

Activities with the dogs include:

  • Weekly dog training class
  • Taking dogs on Hikes
  • Social events in the community and put on by the shelter

If you are interested in joining the Pit Crew, contact Linda Thomas at lthomas@metrodetroitanimals.org or 313-943-2697.

Our Partners

kenneth a scott
HappyHowies_webOur Pit Crew training is fueled by Happy Howie’s.

What does Pit Crew stand for?

“PIT Crew” stands for the areas in which the dogs are trained:

P = postures (body language)
I = impulse control
T = training/tricks
C = community
R = reactions
E = equipment/environment
W = walking

Cat Coaches

Cat coaches are specially trained volunteers who help our cats adjust to shelter life and get them ready for their forever homes. One rescue at a time, these hardworking volunteers increase each cat’s chances for adoption.

Cat Coaches assist by:

  • Providing cuddle time for our kitties
  • Teaching our felines new behaviors like “sit” and “wave”
  • Helping our kitties accept being handled, so they become accustomed to such things as regular nail trimming
  • Discovering a cat’s “inner personality,” which helps place the right cat with just the right family

If you are interested in joining the Cat Coaches, contact Linda Thomas at lthomas@metrodetroitanimals.org or 313-943-2697.

Our Partners

purinalogo_webOur Cat Coach training is fueled by Purina.

Other Ways to Help

You can be an important part of the Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit even without becoming a volunteer.  Below are some ideas:

Fido Bakery (Homemade Dog Treats)

Calling all bakers!  You can be a part of raising funds for the shelter by baking dog treats to be sold at special events and the Dearborn Farmer’s and Artisans Market.  Contact Jennifer Dickey at fidobakery@gmail.com for more information.

Kitty Comforters

If you are crafty, download the directions to make Kitty Comforters. You make ’em, the cats love ’em.

Dog Toys

Water Bottle Enrichment Toy – This feeder keeps our dogs challenged and using their brains. Nothing better than a little delayed gratification.

Dog Pull Toy – Find out how easy it is to weave a fleece rope dog toy and make one of our dogs a happy camper.

Group Projects

Existing groups that help us out: Howe School students, Mixter School, Services to Enhance Potential, and Jewish Vocational Services.

Share your ideas with:
Volunteer Coordinator
Emily Kirby
313-943-2697 ext. #3555.

Enter the Volunteer Information Center (VicNet) to sign up for shifts, log your hours, check your schedule or change your contact information.

Please Note:  Your Login Name is the e-mail address which we have on file.

If you are new to using VicNet you may want to view a short video that provides an overview of the system.

School or Corporate Groups

Looking for a volunteer opportunity for your school or company? On occasion, FAMD has openings through our Service Day Program! Your team will tour our facility, and assist with priority tasks such as shelter beautification, organizing supplies, making and distributing enrichment items, preparation or setup for an event, and of course a bit of hands-on time with the animals.

Are events more your speed? Each May, FAMD depends on corporate, school, and social groups to fill our many volunteer openings for the Mutt Strut and Pet Expo, our largest community event and fundraiser. Sign up in advance for exciting opportunities in the Walk Patrol, Doggie Fun Zone, and more! For more information about service day opportunities with the Friends, please contact the Volunteer Department at 313-943-2697 x3555, or volunteers@metrodetroitanimals.org.