Volunteer Handbook

(Updates Pending)

“The key to a successful non-profit organization is the right volunteer in the right place at the right time.”


A message from the President...


Dear Volunteer,

It is with great pleasure that I can introduce you to the Humane Society of Stanislaus County. You undoubtedly grasp the important task we are faced with on a daily basis. It must be said that as a community we can't make positive changes without the help of our dedicated volunteers, a rank you are preparing to join.

The purpose of this handbook is to provide you with basic information about our Volunteer Program. I hope you will find your experience here rewarding and meaningful.

Yours truly,

Laurie Daily-Johnston, Board Member / Immediate Past President



In this Handbook you will find :

• Contact information.

• Policies and Procedures.

• Volunteer Opportunities.

• Information on Programs and Services.

This is your organization, therefore at any time during your orientation or training please feel free to ask questions.



Organizational Information


In the beginning...

The Humane Society of Stanislaus County, more commonly known as the HSSC, was started in late 2007 to help combat the staggering overcrowding at the Stanislaus County Animal Shelter. Rising euthanasia rates, upwards of 75% most years, became the bugle call to several compassionate individuals in our community. Their passion for companion animals culminated in the creation of the HSSC. The first true Humane Society in our county since the late 1970's.


Baby steps...


The first few years of the HSSC was filled with excitement, passion and of course some growing pains.  By 2009 the HSSC had acquired it's 501c(3) status with both the Federal Government and the State of California.  This allowed the HSSC to operate as a full fledged Not-For-Profit Charitable Organization.


In late 2009 the HSSC had reorganized it's mission to:

• Reintroduce Feline Adoption

• Place heavy emphasis on Spay & Neuter programs

• Promote Community Education

• Foster a collaborative network with other local animal rescues


To Infinity and Beyond...


As the HSSC continues to carve out a niche in the community, the organization continues to realize the importance of providing greater assistance to the Stanislaus County Animal Shelter. The long term goal of the HSSC is to establish and maintain a full time private shelter to alleviate the burden of overcrowding at the county facility.



Organizational Governance

The HSSC is governed by an elected Board of Directors. The Board holds monthly meetings to plan and execute the mission of the organization. The Board relies on the by-laws and California Corporations Code as its main guidance in its decision making process. Periodically the Board will evaluate its Policies & Procedures Manual to clarify positions as well as processes that will better serve the organization.


The Board is comprised of three Officers. Those Officers are elected by the members from the pool of Directors already elected to the Board.   Officer positions are the President/CEO, who's main duty is the day-to-day operations of the HSSC, the Secretary, who's responsible for all legal documentation and standards and the Treasurer/CFO, who's responsible for the financial integrity of the HSSC.

 In addition to the Officers there are four Directors. The Directors are elected by the members to serve the HSSC. The Directors take on responsibility for committees such as Membership, Fund raising, Foster Homes as well as several others.

Each Officer and Director is elected for two-year terms at the annual membership meeting in October.  There are no term limits for Directors or Officers.



The Board of Directors


President & Adoptions Coordinator

Becky Medcalf


Secretary & Wellness Clinic Coordinator

Tamra Helton



Lori-Jo Boyd


Board Members

Vanessa Lemus

Laurie Daily-Johnston



Our Principles (Code of Ethics)

We believe that every life has merit and euthanasia is not the answer.

We believe that to reach our goals of a no-kill shelter community, we must educate the community about spaying and neutering pets.

We believe that education and compassionate advocacy are the most effective means of communication.

We believe that as a community we can achieve anything.

We oppose Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) because it punishes animals for human actions.

We oppose all forms of animal cruelty, including those disguised as “sport”.

We oppose the breeding of companion animals for monetary gain.

We oppose the sale of puppies and kittens by pet shops for financial gain.

We understand that agriculture is an intricate part of the fabric of Stanislaus County, and we respect the rights of those who make their living in that manner.






Volunteers are expected to be committed to the Humane Society of Stanislaus County’s mission and philosophies and while attending events to conduct themselves appropriately. If you have questions regarding our programs or activities, please ask before participating. Volunteers are not required to attend every activity or event, but if you agree to participate in an activity or event, you are expected to adhere to that commitment. If you choose to do so, you may cease volunteering with the HSSC upon the completion of any volunteer assignment, or when you are not currently engaged in an assignment. You may stay subscribed to the e-mail lists as long as you wish, regardless of your volunteering status with us. If you should decide to not volunteer with us any longer, we would appreciate it if you would please send the Volunteer Coordinator an e-mail to let us know that you will no longer be volunteering with us. We ask that you notify the Volunteer Coordinator so that other arrangements may be made in a timely manner, prior to our next event.


Treatment of Animals

Animals are to be treated kindly, gently, and professionally, at all times.



All volunteers are expected to maintain confidentiality of all proprietary or privileged information to which they are exposed while serving as a volunteer. This includes information that may involve board members, other volunteers, clients, sponsors and/or the overall business of the Humane Society of Stanislaus County.



As a volunteer, you are a representative of the Humane Society of Stanislaus County. When involved in our events or when wearing your volunteer attire, you are expected to present a good image of the organization at all times, this includes language. Please be respectful of our attendants as well as your fellow volunteers. If you disagree with someone, another volunteer, potential adopter, sponsor or event attendee, please refer the matter to the event coordinator. It is unacceptable to act unprofessionally at any time while at an HSSC sponsored event or function.


Fund raising for the HSSC

You may encourage donations for the HSSC at any time. Donation jars may be made available to you as requested. Any direct or indirect solicitation of commercial businesses must be done through prior Board approval. You may feel free to present your lead at any time, but all correspondence needs to be handled through the board to keep our books in order and eliminate any erroneous communication.


Volunteer Attire

Volunteers must dress appropriately throughout participation. Our insurance requires that you be easily identified by the public as a volunteer. Event volunteers must wear an HSSC shirt and/or name badge identifying them as a volunteer. Shirts are available periodically for order or through our website as inventory is available. Attire requirements will be posted with each event’s information.


Media Procedures

So efforts are not duplicated and information is accurate, it is essential that for any dealings with the media must be brought to the attention of the President or the executive board. Media includes anything printed, broadcast, or televised about the HSSC. We welcome any contacts or story ideas you may have and ask that you direct them to the President.



The HSSC maintains a policy forbidding harassment of volunteers whether by supervisory volunteers, fellow volunteers, or other individuals that a volunteer may come into contact with as part of their assigned task or event. Harassment is deemed to have occurred when the conduct interferes with the volunteer’s performance at the assigned task or event or creates a hostile environment for the volunteer.


The HSSC requests that any volunteer who may experience such harassment to promptly notify the Volunteer Coordinator, the President (CEO), or an executive board member in order that an investigation can take place and appropriate action taken.


Drugs and Alcohol

Drugs and alcohol are not to be used by volunteers during activities and events. (Exceptions for alcohol consumption will be communicated in writing by the President.)



Theft of any HSSC materials is cause for immediate dismissal from the volunteer program. Depending on the severity of the theft, legal action may also occur.



All volunteers should be in general good health. Any physical limitation should be noted on the application for volunteer service so appropriate work may be selected. If it is discovered at the assigned event that you are unable to fully perform an assigned task, please consult with the Volunteer Coordinator promptly so that you can be assigned an alternative task.


Medical Coverage

The HSSC currently holds only liability for its board members and attendees at our events. With the help of additional funding, we are working to obtain accident coverage for all active volunteers.  Therefore, all volunteers are required to sign a hold-harmless waiver for the protection of the organization and are required to have their own health insurance coverage before participating.



(business documents, email, forum, blogs):


Business Documents

Any documents produced or received by a volunteer during the course of his or her participation are the proprietary property of the HSSC and therefore, are not to be copied or transmitted to any other parties by any method, including but not limited to, E-mail transmission or physical removal, without the prior written consent of the President.



Facebook by volunteers are encouraged to chronicle experiences with animal rescue. Volunteers are expected not to defame the organization or other volunteers. You must realize that content is held to the same standards as print and may be subject to libel claims. Your participation is exclusively at the discretion of the HSSC; therefore, if you post profane, untrue or harassing messages, your privileges to facebook may be revoked.



As you go about your volunteer activities, you may notice ways to improve the quality or efficiency of your volunteer service. We ask that you share these ideas with the Volunteer Coordinator through daily conversation, in meetings, or through a note via e-mail or you can use the volunteer forum to explain your idea. After considering your suggestion, the Volunteer Coordinator will let you know whether or not your suggestion will be implemented and, if so, what action will be taken. Be on the lookout for improvements. Your ideas can make a difference in the level of our success and the quality of our volunteer program.


Recruitment of other volunteers

Tell your friends about our program and entice them to volunteer their services.


Online Safety

The safety of our volunteers is important to us. To that end, the HSSC will not release a volunteer’s phone number, age or other personal information to anyone outside of our organization or to any other volunteer without that volunteer’s written permission to do so.


Volunteer Participation



It is expected that any volunteer who commits to an event live up to that commitment. As all staff and the Board are volunteers as well, we need everyone to follow through on their commitments so that the Board and staff may keep continuity within each event. The HSSC understands how valuable each person’s time is, we understand that emergencies and unexpected situations occur. Should an unexpected event occur that causes a volunteer to not be able to fulfill their commitment we ask that they contact the volunteer coordinator as soon as humanly possible.


Training and Supervision


Inside Training

Volunteer training will vary according to the volunteer’s position. All volunteers must attend an orientation with the volunteer coordinator or member of the executive board. After the orientation, the Volunteer Coordinator will make an evaluation to determine how best to utilize a volunteer’s time and skills.  Microchip clinic, adoption day and event volunteers will be trained the day of the event through the pairing of a Volunteer Mentor as well as a short demonstration given prior to the time that the event is open to the public.


Foster parents will be required to attend one foster parent orientation session before fostering and will continue to be supervised by the respective Foster Coordinator.


Volunteers are encouraged to explore multiple areas of the HSSC's volunteer opportunities as their time and experience will allow. Occasional online training sessions will also be provided to keep you up-to-date on our programs and goals


Outside Training

Outside opportunities for training will be posted on our volunteer forum as they are made available to us. The HSSC will not cover these costs unless specific grants or scholarships are made available, however, we will help coordinate travel and lodging if possible. Potential training opportunities include Petfinder.com’s Adoption Options, American Humane Association’s Emergency Services Volunteer Training, Noah’s Wish Animal Disaster Response Team Training, and American Red Cross Pet First Aid and CPR classes.


 Online training is also available through the Humane Society University


(humanesocietyu.org) and PetSmart Webinars (https://petsmartcharities.webex.com). Volunteers who successfully complete outside training should notify the volunteer coordinator and provide copies of any certificates or letters of recommendation. The HSSC will provide tuition assistance for approved programs if funding is made available in the annual budget. Only members of the executive and advisory boards and active volunteers with a minimum of six months active participation will be considered for tuition assistance. Active volunteers must present information regarding participation in advance and must be recommended by the Volunteer Coordinator or a member of the executive board.



In addition to formal meetings, the HSSC utilizes.   Meetings may be held once a month on the first Saturday at 10:30 a.m., adequate notice will be provided. If you cannot attend a meeting, please notify the Volunteer Coordinator to make alternate arrangements.


Event Participation

The HSSC participates in and hosts events on a monthly basis. Volunteer commitment and ideas are essential to the success of our events. These events are designed to promote the adoption of our animals, encourage donations, and provide information to the public about our organization.


Required Community Service Hours

Volunteers needing certification of required community service hours must present all forms to the Volunteer Coordinator or assigned member of the executive board prior to start of volunteering.  Signed forms will only be returned at the completion of all required service hours and will be subject to the approval of the President.


Foster Parent Requirements

Foster parents must fill out a foster parent application and complete an in-home interview and vet reference check prior to fostering.  Foster parents are monitored and inspected quarterly as mandated by the State of California Department of Food and Agriculture. Foster parents will receive a separate policy manual and will be required to attend an orientation meeting.


Participation with Other Animal Welfare Agencies

While the HSSC partners with other animal welfare agencies, volunteers are requested to participate with only one animal welfare agency at a time. The California Department of Food and Agriculture regulations prohibit the fostering of animals from multiple rescue agencies at the same time. Foster parents must notify the foster coordinator if they decide to foster a pet from another agency so that proper arrangements are made.


Actions Conflict Resolution

We believe that the best way to handle any misunderstanding is to communicate honestly about it as soon as it happens. That is why we have an open door policy for bringing volunteer concerns to the attention of the people who can best do something about them. We stress that no member of the executive board is too busy to answer questions or discuss your concerns.


Although we believe that good communication among all volunteers will help prevent most concerns from arising, if you have a question or concern, here is what you should do:


1. Tell the Volunteer Coordinator your concern. You and the Volunteer Coordinator are encouraged to talk things over and resolve difficulties amongst yourselves whenever you can.  A frank talk is usually the easiest and most effective way to deal with the problem.


2. If you do not find a solution to your concern or it is a subject that you prefer not to discuss with your volunteer coordinator, stop by and make an appointment with the President. The President will help you and your Volunteer Coordinator to gather the facts objectively an settle the matter. You should write down your issue and present your position to the President. The President will review all the facts, make a decision, and inform you of his/her decision in writing within thirty days, unless a complete investigation requires more extensive review.


Corrective Action Process

The Humane Society of Stanislaus County reserves the right to terminate a volunteer’s connection with the organization at any time. However, the Volunteer Coordinator may provide verbal counseling and/or a written warning prior to termination, but is not required to do so.


Verbal Counseling

When a performance problem is first identified or inappropriate behavior is displayed, it should be brought to the attention of the volunteer as soon as possible. Informal discussion between the Volunteer Coordinator and the volunteer will often suffice as the corrective action needed for the infraction.


The Volunteer Coordinator should make and retain a written record of this conversation that summarizes the issues discussed and the date of the meeting.


Written Warning

If an informal discussion with the volunteer does not result in corrective action, the Volunteer Coordinator will prepare a written warning. This formal memorandum will highlight the prior counseling session and the subsequent infraction(s) leading to this warning.


This written warning should be addressed to the volunteer with copies to the executive board and should include all of the information required by the disciplinary process.



If the volunteer’s performance continues to deteriorate or corrective action is not adhered to, the Volunteer Coordinator should, after consultation with the president, prepare and deliver to the volunteer a memorandum summarizing all previous corrective actions and the specific problem(s) that warranted the termination action. Possible reasons may include:

• Failure to adhere to volunteer manual guidelines

• For conduct on duty which would be detrimental to the organization and/or the animals,

   including any breach of confidence

• Conduct off duty which would adversely affect the organization

• Reporting to an event under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol

• Theft of property or funds

• No call/No show for two events

• Any abuse or mistreatment of animals

• Releasing of confidential information

• Gross misconduct or insubordination

The decision for termination shall be made after securing the facts from all concerned parties. This decision may be referred to the executive board if the volunteer feels there is a grievance.


Volunteer Motivation and Recognition

All volunteers are expected to meet the HSSC's standards for volunteer performance, as detailed in the respective position description. Each volunteer shall be provided with the opportunity for review and evaluation appropriate to their position on an quarterly basis. The review process shall consist of an appraisal by the Volunteer Coordinator and/or executive board member. If a volunteer’s performance does not meet appropriate standards, ordinarily she/he will be given a reasonable opportunity to correct and/or improve performance. Volunteer performance will be evaluated by the person to whom they are accountable. This evaluation may take the form of a written self-evaluation, an interview, or a face-to-face conversation, etc. The HSSC believes that recognizing volunteers is a way of sharing respect and appreciation for their accomplishments. Recognitions are tangible reminders of rewarding relationships with the organization. The quality of the accomplishment is the primary determining factor in awarding recognition. Quality is judged by the impact on our mission. Appropriate recognitions of service will be planned during the year in conjunction with community programs.



Seasoned volunteers who continue to exemplify their service to the organization will be selected as Mentors for new volunteers. Mentors will be assigned new volunteers to aid them through training and meeting other organization members.


Rescued Pets Policies


Types of Pets We Rescue

• Puppies, dogs, cats and kittens from local animal control or other rescues that may have been

abused or abandoned or in need of extensive medical care.

• Cats and kittens through the Trap-Neuter-Return program that can be socialized.


Intake Policies

The HSSC receives phone calls and emails daily of requests to take on new pets. As a volunteer, you may direct people to our website for assistance, but you may not commit our organization’s resources to any animal. You may offer to be a foster parent or help in locating resources once the person has filled out a surrender form and has been contacted by a member of the executive board. Our resources are limited, and we do not want to over-commit if we do not have adequate space or funding available.



Due to legal liabilities, we cannot accept stray pets. Stray pets must first go through a local animal control before being brought into our rescue organization.


Owner Surrenders

The HSSC will only take owner surrenders on an as-available basis. Owners are encouraged to exhaust other alternatives before relinquishing their pets to rescue. A full page of resources is available on HumaneStanislaus.care. Additionally the HSSC  requires a surrender fee and health certificate prior to accepting a surrendered animal.


Animal Control

The HSSC works with animal control agencies statewide to save animals in municipally owned shelters from euthanasia. However our primary focus are pets within Stanislaus County.


Other Rescues

The HSSC networks with agencies throughout Stanislaus County and the Central Valley to place as many pets as possible in adoptable environments. We work to place animals with breed-specific rescues when space is no longer available, as well as doing home visits an transports to assist other agencies in relocating and adopting pets. We will also take animals from licensed rescues when space or adoptions are available through HSSC.


Veterinary Care

The HSSC incurs all costs for veterinary care of the animals in its programs. Volunteers may feel free to contribute funding, but must do so through the HSSC, not our veterinarians. All appointments and communication must go through the Foster Care Coordinator or President. Appointments must be kept. If you need to reschedule, contact one of the coordinators immediately. Plan to be at least ten minutes early to each appointment. Contact the coordinator immediately following the appointment to relay any pertinent information and provide an update for the pet’s information on the website.



The HSSC is a no-kill animal rescue, however, we will euthanize under the following circumstances:

• Veterinary recommended due to medical condition

• Animal has seriously injured a human

• Animal has killed another animal

• Ordered to do so by municipal authorities


Injuries/Bites to Humans and/or Other Animals

Injuries and/or bites may occur while the pet is in the care of the foster home or a volunteer at an event. ALL cases must be reported immediately to the foster home coordinator or a member of the executive board. Please use common sense in care of the animals. If you believe the pet is behaving aggressively, call us immediately. Do not allow young children to be around pets unsupervised. Many bites to children occur as the pets feel threatened by the children’s behavior.


Adoption Policies

All adoptions must go through our adoption process. An application must be filled out, vet reference checked, and an in-home inspection conducted. If you know someone who may be a good home for one of our pets, direct them to our website to fill out an application and send an email to the Adoption Coordinator or a member of the executive board. The applicant may also list you as a reference in the “comments” area.  Adoption decisions are made by the Adoption Coordinator and/or members of the executive board.  Once an application is submitted, all communication should be between the applicant and the Adoption Coordinator or executive board member only. Foster parents may be called to answer questions or for a meet-and-greet with the family members, but only by one of the authorized individuals. Meet and greets with pets will not be scheduled until an adoption application has been completed and approved by the Adoption Coordinator or a member of the executive board.  Animals are not to be promised to an individual or released to an individual until after approval from the Adoption Coordinator or member of the executive board and only after all paperwork is signed and adoption fees are paid. All adoptions may take place at Adoption Showcases. For safety and liability reasons, an Adoption Coordinator must be present with the foster parents at the time of adoption. Your Adoption Coordinator will notify you of your adoption appointment.


Foster parents may apply to adopt their foster pet(s), but are subject to the same policies as a standard adoption. If an adoption application is already in process and home visit scheduled, the foster parent must wait until the applicant has been denied or canceled before being considered for adoption.  This process is designed for us to make the best matches for our pets as well as protect us against any liability and reduce any erroneous communication that may occur during the adoption process.


Spay/Neuter Policy

The HSSC will not complete an adoption of a pet if it has yet to be sterilized without the prior written authorization from the President. Adoption applications may be completed and fees paid to put a hold on a pet, but it will not go home until after the surgery. Foster parents must not relinquish the pet until approved by the Adoption Coordinator. It is a California State law that all pets in rescues and shelters must be spayed or neutered prior to adoption.


Copyright © Humane Society of Stanislaus County 2011. All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent from the author.




I, understand that the care of injured and orphaned animals and other work of the Humane Society of Stanislaus County can have inherent and unforeseeable risks which may result in property damage, serious injury and/or death.


I understand and agree that neither the Humane Society of Stanislaus County, nor any of its

employees, officers, directors, trustees or assigns, nor any of its other volunteers shall be held liable or responsible in any way for any damages, injury and/or death to me that may occur as a result of my participation as a volunteer for the Humane Society of Stanislaus County , or as a result of negligence of any party, whether passive or active.


On behalf of myself as well as my estate, heirs and assigns, I hereby agree to forever release, exempt, discharge and hold harmless the Humane Society of Stanislaus County, it's employees, officers, directors, trustees, assigns and volunteers (the “Released Parties”) from all liability or responsibility whatsoever for property damage, personal injury or death, however caused, including but not limited to the negligence of the Released Parties, whether passive or active.


I have read and understand this Liability Release, and sign this document of my own free act and with the knowledge that I hereby waive my legal rights.



Signature of Volunteer: _______________________________________________                                                                                


 Date: _____________________________



Printed Name of Volunteer: ____________________________________________



Signature of HSSC Representative: ______________________________________                                                      


Date: ______________________________



Printed Name of HSSC: _______________________________________________



Representative Title: __________________________________________________




Understanding & acceptance of volunteer guidelines

I have read, understand and agree to the volunteer guidelines set forth in the Humane Society of Stanislaus County volunteer manual.


I fully understand and agree that I am providing my services in a volunteer capacity without any expressed or implied promise of compensation.


I agree to perform my volunteer duties to the best of my ability and to adhere to the guidelines detailed in the volunteer manual.


I further understand that my volunteer involvement may be terminated for reasons including,

but not limited to, those outlined in the volunteer manual.


Photo Release

During my volunteer time with the Humane Society of Stanislaus County, I understand my photo may be taken at various events and projects. By signing below I also hereby grant the Humane Society of Stanislaus County permission to use my likeness in photograph(s) and/or video(s) in any and all of its publications or on the World Wide Web, whether now known or hereafter existing.


I will make no monetary or other claim against the Humane Society of Stanislaus County for the use of the photograph(s) and/or video(s).


Signature of Volunteer: ________________________________________________


 Date: _____________________


Signature of HSSC Representative: ______________________________________


Date: _____________________


 HSSC Representative Title: ____________________________________________


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