Tulsa Animal Welfare Policies

What is a Volunteer?

A volunteer is an individual who freely donates their time to assist the shelter in the accomplishment of its mission. Volunteers do not receive compensation for their services nor are they eligible for benefits or worker’s compensation.

Volunteers must be at least thirteen years of age. Any volunteer under the age of eighteen years of age must be accompanied by an adult and have a parent signed liability waiver on file. Volunteers eighteen years and older must also have a signed liability waiver on file. All volunteers must attend a TAW Volunteer Orientation before volunteering.

Individuals employed by the City of Tulsa need prior approval in order to volunteer. City employees may not perform the same type of duties as those they are employed to do by the city. City of Tulsa employees may only volunteer in their personal time and not during work hours.

Code of Conduct:

The volunteer’s role is to assist with the operations of the shelter.  As a volunteer, you represent Tulsa Animal Welfare and are expected to conduct yourself in a professional manner. You must be respectful and courteous in your interactions with the public and the staff. Conduct that interferes with shelter operations, is harassing, obscene, defamatory, threatening, or involves the mistreatment or demeaning of patrons or staff, is against shelter policies. Such behavior may result in dismissal from the TAW Volunteer Program.

The Code of Conduct applies to online interactions as well as personal interactions with staff, fellow volunteers, and members of the community. Volunteers must follow these rules, as well as the rules of the shelter. This Code of Conduct is to help everyone understand what is expected while participating in the TAW Volunteer Program. Providing excellent service to our patrons, staff, and fellow volunteers should be a priority.

Privacy Policy:

Personal information of our patrons, staff, and volunteers, including their address, email, and phone number are confidential and must not be shared with the public. Releasing this information without prior permission from the individual may result in dismissal from the volunteer program.


Volunteers should always be respectful, honest, and maintain professional boundaries. Abusive or vulgar language, drugs, alcohol, and illegal weapons are strictly prohibited during volunteer service.

Social Media:

Please support the following practices.


  • Post positive comments and links about your TAW volunteering experiences.
  • Celebrate Successes! Volunteers and staff are doing great things.
  • Share, “Like”, react, and comment on TAW social media posts.
  • Take responsibility for making sure that references to TAW policies are accurate and complete.
  • Be respectful of individuals, partners, and communities with which they interact.

Do Not:

  • Post photos or videos of members of the community without their consent.
  • Post photos or videos of animals receiving services without the permission of TAW administration.
  • Disclose personal information of fellow volunteers, staff, or our patrons.
  • Post negative, obscene, harassing, or discriminatory information about volunteers, rescue partners, or TAW staff.

Dress Code

When volunteering, you should understand that anything you wear will likely get dirty and possibly stained. While volunteers are required to wear long pants and closed toed shoes, it is always a good idea to cover as much of your body as possible to avoid scratches, exposure to zoonotic communicable diseases, fleas and/or ticks. Clothing should be safe, neat, and in good taste. Please use good judgement regarding attire and grooming in order to project a positive public image. Volunteers dressed inappropriately will be asked to leave and change clothes before returning to volunteer.

Volunteers must wear:

  • Long Pants- Long pants, such as jeans, khakis or cargo pants must be worn.  Garments that expose the leg to potential scratches or scrapes are not allowed.
  • Closed-toed Shoes- Closed-toed shoes with good traction are required. For safety and health reasons, please do not wear flip flops or sandals.
  • TAW Volunteer ID Badge- A volunteer ID badge will be given to you once you have completed orientation and show up for your first shift. Single time volunteers will not receive an ID badge. Volunteer ID badges not only help our staff to know you but help identify you as someone that can help potential adopters.


Smoking/vaping is prohibited inside the building. Anyone wishing to smoke/vape must do so outside, away from entrances and out of public view. Volunteers working at an off-site event may only smoke/vape when on a break and again it must be out of public view.

Drugs and Alcohol:

Volunteers are strictly forbidden from volunteering at our shelter or at off-site events while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A volunteer suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be asked to leave and possibly dismissed from the TAW volunteer program.

Cell Phones:

Situational awareness is extremely important while at the shelter. We want you to be safe and keep your focus on the animal in your care and the customers needing assistance. While volunteers are allowed to have their cell phones on them, it is recommended that both hands are available when working with animals. If you must have your cell phone with you, we ask that you set the ringer to vibrate or silent. Earbuds, headsets, and headphones are not allowed to be used at any time while volunteering at TAW.

If a volunteer would like to photograph an animal, we ask that either someone else hold the leash or you do so while the animal is off leash in a dog run. We also ask that if you are photographing an animal in hopes of getting him/her adopted, that you include relevant identification information as well in your marketing effort.

Unauthorized Activities:

Soliciting business, selling goods or services, requesting donations or signatures or distributing literature on TAW property without approval from management is forbidden.


You are responsible for your own health and welfare. Please be sure to follow signs and safety precautions. If you are injured while volunteering, the injury must be reported immediately to the staff and an incident report completed. First aid kits are located in the staff break room, clinic, and front office for minor cuts and scratches. Volunteers are encouraged to consult a physician, at their own expense, to decide on the best treatment.

Immunizations and Testing:

It is your responsibility to arrange for any recommended vaccinations, necessary testing and follow-up. You should consult with your primary care physician before beginning any volunteer program at TAW.


If you are ill, you should remain at home and only return when you are well. However, if you are scheduled for a volunteer activity, please notify the Volunteer Coordinator if you will be absent.


The Volunteer Coordinator is your point of contact regarding volunteering and shelter activities. Questions, concerns, or a complaint regarding a staff member or an issue with TAW policy should be directed to the Volunteer Coordinator. Also, if you have difficulties working with other volunteers, please notify the Volunteer Coordinator as soon as possible. We want to resolve issues quickly so that we can all work effectively as a team.

If you are not satisfied with a resolution, you may take your complaint or appeal any issues directly to the manager of Tulsa Animal Welfare.


We understand that there may be a learning curve when entering a new volunteer program. Volunteers committing minor violations of policy and procedure will be counseled. Repeat, or more severe violations, such as disruptive behavior, purposeful misstatement of TAW policies, or entering unauthorized areas, may result in additional counseling or dismissal from the TAW volunteer program.

Volunteer Term:

Participating in the TAW Volunteer Program is “at will.” The volunteer or Volunteer Coordinator may terminate the volunteer relationship, with or without notice, at any time. As a courtesy, all parties should attempt to give the other reasonable notice if the relationship is expected to end soon. Dismissed volunteers will only be permitted entry to public areas within the shelter at appropriate times.

Animal Care:

TAW expects that volunteers will treat all animals in the care of the shelter with compassion and gentleness. Volunteers should use caution at all times and request assistance from staff when needed.

Consistency is extremely important when handling and training animals. Positive reinforcement training may be used on the animals. Yelling, hitting, and rough handling of any animal is strictly prohibited. 

Media Relations:

Volunteers are not authorized to speak to the media on behalf of TAW without authorization from the Shelter Manager.

Authorized, Restricted and Unauthorized Areas:

Volunteers are permitted access to the public areas of TAW. Surgery, Clinic, Medical Isolation, Animal Receiving, Euthanasia Room, and the Rabies Observation Area are off limits to Volunteers. Some activities may include access to off limit areas as directed by staff. Unless directed or escorted by staff, at no time are Volunteers to be in unauthorized areas.


While the shelter will always strive to place an animal into a good home first, euthanasia is an unfortunate occurrence at TAW. As a volunteer, you may be exposed to animals that are facing euthanasia. However, you will never be required to witness an actual procedure. This is a daily reality that staff have to deal with both the administration and its effects. Our goal is to reduce the number that must be euthanized by collaborating with volunteers and the community to constantly increase our live release rate. If you are not comfortable with being in a facility where this occurs, we would encourage you to get involved with our local rescues and programs to help us increase our live release rate.

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