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After a three-year hiatus, Santa Barbara Humane is welcoming volunteers back to their Santa Maria and Santa Barbara campuses. 

Both Santa Barbara Humane Society and Santa Maria Valley Humane Society had bustling volunteer programs before merging to become Santa Barbara Humane in 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization had to make the difficult decision to pause all volunteering at both campuses to ensure the health and safety of staff. 

This pause allowed Santa Barbara Humane to restructure and modernize its volunteer program. “In many ways, it was a blessing for us to be able to take our time reassessing the needs of our organization, our community, and the animals,” said Chief Operating Officer Dori Villalon. “We were able to plan what the future of volunteering will look like at Santa Barbara Humane.” 

At the helm of the volunteer program is a new Manager of Volunteer Engagement, Dana Bushouse. Bushouse plans to roll the program out in phases; the first step will be recruiting volunteers to help with dogs. Opportunities for volunteers wishing to work with cats or help out in the clinic will be coming shortly. 

Responsibilities for dog volunteers will include dog walking, basic manners training, kennel cleaning, and sanitation. To better serve the animals, volunteer opportunities are currently limited to those 16 years or older who can commit to a minimum of two hours per week for 4-6 months. Shift times are 7-9 AM, 12-2 

PM, and 4-6 PM. All interested parties, including those who previously volunteered at Santa Barbara Humane Society or Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, will need to apply. 

To apply, community members can visit to fill out an application and sign up for a brief interview. All volunteers must submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination and attend an orientation. The first orientations in Santa Barbara are filled, but spaces are still available in Santa Maria for the 10 AM and 4 PM orientations on Thursday, March 30, and the 4 PM orientation on Saturday, April 1. 

Staff at Santa Barbara Humane are eager to welcome volunteers back. “We are so excited to be able to get this program up and running,” said Villalon. “The work done by our amazing volunteers will make a huge impact on both the animals in our care and our community at large.” 


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