The Field Guide to Community Service
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
— Anatole France
If you prefer four-legged friends and furry creatures, there are many opportunities to connect with volunteer opportunities to work with them. Silicon Valley is brimming with nonprofits that serve animals, both domesticated and wild, from large established organizations to small but mighty groups.
Volunteer at the Best Friends Animal Society's annual Strut Your Mutt walk in San Francisco to raise money for homeless pets.
Participate in the Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) Pet Pantry Donation Program, which provides pet owners with food for their pets, so they can remain in their own loving homes and ultimately safe from homelessness.
Attend 13th Street Cat Rescue’s trap-neuter-return free training workshop, held every few months at the San Jose Animal Care Center, 2750 Monterey Road, San Jose.
Learn how to treat sick and injured wildlife through the internship program at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.
Town Cats needs Clean Care Volunteers to clean cages and feed cats at their adoption sites in Morgan Hill and San Jose. Shifts usually take 1 to 2 hours and include cleaning litter boxes, feeding cats, wiping out cages, changing bedding and giving cats free time outside their cages.
Take shelter dogs out on day trips by becoming a volunteer for the Humane Society Silicon Valley’s Doggy Day Out Program.
Help count birds on Hawk Hill with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, which tracks the annual flight of tens of thousands of hawks, eagles, falcons and vultures.
Adopt a dog from one of the many breed rescue organizations, including Golden State German Shepherd Rescue, Golden State Greyhound Adoption or NORCAL Golden Retriever Rescue.
Foster a rescued rabbit through The Rabbit Haven. Your foster care saves rabbits’ lives.
Teach children about animals and conservation as a camp counselor, provide animal care, and talk at animal meet and greets through the Zooteen program at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo.
Animal Assisted Happiness works to enrich the lives of youth with needs through barnyard animal interactions at our Smile Farm and mobile visits, creating moments of joy and happiness throughout the AAH community.
Focused on creating a 100 percent no-kill shelter system, the Bay Area Alliance for Animals has foster and volunteer opportunities with homeless pets. The organization especially needs fosters during kitten season.
B.O.K. Ranch Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program is dedicated to providing horseback riding lessons to children and adults with special needs.
Companion Animal Rescue Effort
C.A.R.E. finds permanent homes for dogs that were abandoned, relinquished or never reclaimed. C.A.R.E. provides temporary shelter, food, love and medical care to these foster dogs and puppies until they find a forever home.
DreamPower provides therapeutic horsemanship programs to at-risk, low-income children and teens in the Gilroy area.
Endangered Species International
Endangered Species International is strongly committed to reversing the trend of human-induced species extinction, saving endangered animals, and preserving wild places. They have a passion for nature, respect for all life, and optimism for solving the species extinction crisis.
Happy Hollow Foundation supports Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, which is part of the species survival program to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild.
Humane Society saves and enhances lives of animals by working to eliminate unnecessary euthanasia. The organization has been in Silicon Valley for over 85 years.
Humanimal Connection is a volunteer-run organization that focuses on rescuing homeless and abandoned cats into a no-kill shelter environment before they find a forever home.
Jake’s Wish Dog Rescue is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to rescuing abandoned dogs who would otherwise be euthanized in shelters due to lack of space.
Jasper Ridge Farm is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults through the comfort and unconditional acceptance that interacting with animals can provide for children with special needs or facing life threatening illness, families dealing with homelessness or domestic violence, youth struggling with mental health issues, veterans and active military, many whom suffer from PTSD or traumatic brain injury, and incarcerated women.
Karma Cat Rescue — more commonly known as The Dancing Cat — is dedicated to finding creative ways to connect homeless cats to wonderful forever homes. They are also committed to providing a community space where cat lovers can meet, mingle and connect.
Milpitas-based Leave a Trail offers therapeutic horseback riding for children with special needs.
Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue
Mickaboo rescues parrots and other commonly domesticated companion birds that have been neglected, abused, injured or surrendered because their owners can no longer care for them.
National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy
NCEFT is dedicated to helping people with special needs reach beyond their boundaries through equine-assisted therapies, education and research.
NAR is dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of injured, sick and orphaned wildlife.
Dogs: (408) 224-6273
Cats: (408) 946-2291
NARF is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to protecting dogs and cats. Volunteer opportunities include fostering, pet socialization, working at adoption fairs and fundraising.
Nine Lives Foundation rescues cats from high-kill shelters and at-risk homeless situations. Providing these cats with a no-kill shelter and on-site medical care, the organization seeks permanent loving homes for them.
NORCAL Golden Retriever Rescue
NORCAL Golden Retriever Rescue is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization whose mission is to rescue and place adoptable Golden Retrievers in Northern California in safe, loving homes, thereby improving the lives of both the dog and the adoption household.
One Step Closer Therapeutic Riding
One Step Closer is an equestrian organization that offers therapeutic riding to individuals with physical or emotional disabilities, as well as youth-at-risk and U.S. military veterans.
Palomacy is an adoption agency for birds that are unable to be released back into the wild. The organization finds foster and permanent homes for doves and pigeons that otherwise would be euthanized in local shelters.
Pandemonium Aviaries is dedicated to preventing the extinction of targeted avian species through conservation and education.
Peace of Mind is a resource and advocate for senior dogs and senior people on California’s Central Coast. They find loving homes for dogs whose guardians can no longer care for them and for senior dogs in shelters.
Pet Awareness and Welfare Society
PAWS supports and works with San Jose Animal Care Center to reduce the number of homeless animals and to increase awareness of the value of companion pets in the home and community.
Project Purr is an all-volunteer rescue organization for feral cats and kittens in Santa Cruz County. The organization funds a trap-neuter-return program, finds adoptive homes for cats and has a successful barn cat program.
The Rabbit Haven rescues abandoned rabbits and accepts surrendered rabbits from the general public and shelters. They secure medical care, including spaying or neutering, and work to place rescued rabbits in loving foster and permanent homes.
St. Francis Animal Protection Society
A rescue organization that advocates for and rescues cats and dogs of all breeds, ages and medical conditions.
San Jose Animal Advocates is an all-volunteer organization made up of compassionate people building a community network to save more shelter pets.
Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society
Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society preserves, enjoys, restores and fosters public awareness of native birds and their ecosystems, mainly in Santa Clara County.
SaveABunny works to heal and transform the lives of rescued rabbits and their human guardians by connecting through trust and unconditional love.
Save Our Shores works to care for the marine environment through ocean awareness, advocacy and citizen action.
Silicon Valley Pet Project is committed to saving local at-risk shelter pets through rescue, community involvement and education.
South Bay Purebred Rescue is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to the rescue, care and placement of dogs of all breeds.
Support Team Animal Rescue was created to address the problem of euthanasia of companion animals due to shelter overcrowding, and medical and other needs. It works with shelters and other rescues and agencies to place animals in loving, responsible, forever homes.
Sweet Farm is the first nonprofit sanctuary in the world to address the global impacts of factory farming across animals, the plants and the planet.
13th Street Cat Rescue is a no-kill rescue organization sponsored in part by the 13th Street Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC).
Town Cats works to alleviate the suffering of stray, abandoned, unwanted, and feral cats in Santa Clara County.
Unconditional Love Animal Rescue
Unconditional Love Animal Rescue works to rescue animals from euthanizing shelters.
Westwind 4-H Riding for the Handicapped
Westwind gives children with disabilities the opportunity to have fun while improving their coordination and balance, strengthening their muscles — and building their confidence.
Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley
WCSV provides high-quality care and rehabilitation of injured, sick and orphaned wildlife within Silicon Valley. Through educational programs, it fosters a positive coexistence between the general public and wildlife, and encourages an interest in and concern for wildlife conservation issues.
Offer to walk an elderly neighbor’s dog.
Teach children how to interact with new animals.
Spay or neuter your pet.
Participate in Meatless Mondays.
Recycle — it saves wild animals’ habitat.
This Field Guide chapter was edited by Alex Baeckler.
Alex graduated The Harker School in 2021 and is now a student at Colorado State University in the biomedical science dept.
When she is not editing the Field Guide, she likes to spend time horseback riding, working at a local veterinarian’s office and volunteering at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo as part of the Zooteen program.
An aspiring veterinarian, Alex loves to volunteer with a variety of animal organizations to aid shelter animals and spread her love of animals to children through education.