The number of hours an animal volunteer can volunteer is increasing every year, but not all volunteer opportunities are created equal.
And the number of times an animal has to be removed from an animal facility before it can be released into the community is increasing.
The Humane Society of the United States has compiled a list of the most effective animal hospitals.
The list is meant to help people make an informed decision about volunteering at an animal hospital.
“We are seeing an increasing number of volunteer opportunities in veterinary medicine, as well as in animal health and nutrition,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tewes, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
“In general, veterinarians are finding they have a lot of training and certification that is not in their immediate field of work, so they are able to get an understanding of what they are doing.
We are seeing more and more animal volunteers becoming more and less expensive, so the cost per hour of volunteering at these facilities has decreased over time.”
Tewing also points out that there are some facilities that have been well-served by volunteers.
For example, in recent years, there have been fewer reported cases of canine and feline infections in veterinary clinics, thanks to improved technology.
“Some hospitals are more successful in this area than others, but overall there are very few facilities that are doing very well with their animal volunteers,” she says.
While some of the biggest animal hospitals have experienced improvements in their animal volunteering programs, others are experiencing declining animal volunteering rates.
This year, a report released by the Humane Society found that the number on the list of best animal hospitals declined by 14 percent between 2016 and 2018.
While that may seem like a small percentage, it represents an annual drop of nearly 8,000 animal volunteers.
The most effective organizations on the lists included the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Association of Animal Hospitals, the Animal Welfare Institute and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
A majority of these organizations have reported that animal volunteers have made a difference in their hospitals’ programs and practices.
Some of the organizations with the highest animal volunteering totals include the American Association of Veterinarians, the Humane League, the National Association of Home Health Care Veterinaries, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the International Association of Family Animal Welfare Veterinars, the Southern Veterinary Medical Society, the San Diego Veterinary Medical Institute, the Veterinary Medical Research Institute, and the Animal Care and Use Committee of the American Animal Hospital Association.
This is the second year the Humane Foundation has compiled its list of top 10 best animal hospital organizations.
Read more from TechRadars: 10 Best Veterinary Clinics for Pets