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Campus Volunteer FAQs

Are you interested in volunteering at one of our Guiding Eyes campuses?  Here are answers to our most frequently asked questions.

Campus Volunteers help our puppies and dogs get the best possible care

Learn More About Campus Volunteers

My child is under 18 and wants to volunteer at Guiding Eyes. Is there something they can do and can I volunteer with them?

For liability reasons, all on-site Volunteers must be 18 or older whether they are accompanied by a parent or not. However, we have several at-home options for youth, all of which require a commitment of at least one year. Please visit our Home Socialization and Puppy Raising pages for more information about possible options.

I need community service hours – fast! Can I volunteer with you?

Adults aged 18 years or older may apply to volunteer on-site with us. However, because of our application and screening process, it may take up to two months for an individual to be placed as a Volunteer. We also require Volunteers to intend to commit to one full year of volunteering with us. Court-ordered community service must be for a misdemeanor, and proof of judgment is required.

I live in Manhattan and I don’t mind the drive. Can I volunteer?

Ideally, Volunteers live within about a half hour (one-way) commute of our facilities. Experience has shown Volunteers residing beyond this radius either find the commute too expensive long term, or the traffic and weather become too unpredictable and strenuous to continue. Since Guiding Eyes relies heavily on their Volunteers to meet the day-to-day needs of the dogs and pups, we depend on them to arrive on time.

Can I volunteer as my schedule allows?

There are a few in-house volunteer opportunities that are on an as-needed basis, which are more flexible in terms of scheduling. These include Volunteer Drivers and Administrative Volunteers. However, the majority of our in-house volunteer opportunities require a commitment to volunteer for a set day and time each week.

I am thinking of volunteering. Can I take a tour first?

Interested Volunteers may fill out a Campus Volunteer application and will be contacted to set up an appointment for a visit.

I’d like to apply to be a volunteer. Can you mail me an application?

All applications must be completed and returned online.

Why is there such an extensive application process to volunteer?

The multi-step application process helps to ensure a great match is made. We try to match each volunteer with the right position according to interest, schedule, physical abilities, and enjoyment.

What is the most common reason for a Volunteer Application to be declined?

Time constraints. Volunteers must be able to commit to volunteering with us consistently to learn the essential skills that they will need to operate independently. We find most Volunteers are successful when they assist us at least once a week, every week.

If I volunteer with Guiding Eyes, will I receive special consideration if I want to adopt a released puppy or dog?

All applicants for released dogs and puppies are treated equally regarding application process and wait time.

Learn More About Volunteering with Dogs

Can I volunteer to just play with the puppies?

With up to 200 dogs housed at our Training School Kennel and numerous puppies and dogs at our Canine Development Center, Volunteers have a variety of important tasks. They are assigned to assist staff with cleaning the kennel, preparing food and treats for our dogs, bathing dogs, and providing enrichment for them.

I want to be a “dog walker”. Do you need Volunteers to do that?

In addition to cleaning and food preparation, which typically account for 75% of their tasks, Volunteers may have a limited opportunity during each session to walk a few of our puppies and adult dogs. Unlike a shelter, most of our dogs are exercised on a daily basis as part of their training by our staff.

Does every volunteer position in the kennel require picking up poop?

Yes. Keeping our facilities clean and sanitary is of the utmost importance and where we rely the most on the assistance of our Volunteers. Cleaning is a very necessary aspect of all volunteer positions in our kennels, and anyone assigned to work directly with our puppies and dogs must be prepared to clean up poop, urine and vomit.

I have a bad back/knees/neck. Can I volunteer in the kennel?

Volunteering in our kennels involves highly repetitive bending, lifting, kneeling and stooping, which can seriously aggravate even the slightest problem. Volunteers and staff alike need to be able to lift and carry heavy 40-pound bags of food repeatedly and independently. We advise considering other volunteer options at either of our campuses, such as administrative work or volunteering with our visually impaired students.

Do Kennel Volunteers train the dogs to be guide dogs?

Guiding Eyes has a staff of qualified guide dog instructors responsible for training the dogs to guide a blind or visually impaired person. We rely on our Kennel Volunteers to help with the care and feeding of up to 200 dogs.

I want to work at Guiding Eyes. Should I volunteer first?

While some of our staff began their connection to Guiding Eyes as a Volunteer, Guiding Eyes does not give preferential treatment in hiring of staff to Volunteers. For more information on working at Guiding Eyes, visit our Careers page.

I want to be a Guide Dog trainer. Do Volunteers learn how to be trainers?

Working as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor is a very specialized field. Volunteers may learn simple basic commands while volunteering in our kennel, but they will not learn how to train a guide dog.