Make a difference. Become a volunteer.
Volunteers are the backbone of our organization and we are extremely grateful for all of our volunteers who dedicate their time and talent to our mission each and every day. Volunteers are required to be 13 years of age or older. If you are interested in volunteering with our program, we are currently in need of volunteers to help with the following roles:
Community Puppy Home
Puppy homes are responsible for raising a CPL puppy in accordance with all CPL policies and procedures including housebreaking, crate training, vet visits, reinforcing good manners, teaching basic obedience commands, and socializing the puppy in public locations every day. Puppy homes are also required to attend at least two puppy training classes per month (held at CPL). We ask volunteers to train and socialize puppies during the ages of 2–6 months. At that time, CPL staff will evaluate the puppy’s progress and environment in regards to when and where the puppy will transition. CPL may ask for puppies to remain in community homes if we feel it would be in the best interest of the puppy, but the majority of puppies will move into our Prison Puppy Raising Program at the age of 6 months. Puppies will remain in prison to continue their training and socializing during the ages of 7–14 months, and until they are ready to begin their last stage of training at the CPL campus. Puppies may also be moved between community homes or prison facilities as we feel will benefit each puppy’s progress. For this volunteer role, individuals under the age of 18 must have an adult in the home trained as well.
Temporary Puppy Home
Temporary puppy homes provide back-up support for our full-time puppy homes. The time frame can be as short as overnight or as long as several weeks, depending on the individual situation. Temporary puppy homes are expected to continue the puppy’s training and socialization schedule while caring for the puppy in their home. In the event of a longer stay, the volunteer may need to attend puppy classes. It is a great way to experience the rewards of puppy raising and make a significant contribution to CPL without making the full three month commitment.
We are also in need of temporary puppy homes to assist with our Prison Puppy Raising Program. Volunteers who work with our prison program are trained to take the puppies out of the correctional facilities for a night or weekend to assist with the puppy’s training and socialization in public locations. We work with the following correctional facilities: MCIJ, SCI Albion, SCI Greene, SCI Huntingdon, SCI Laurel Highlands, SCI Muncy, SCI Smithfield, SCI Somerset. If you are located near one of these facilities and are interested in volunteering with our Prison Puppy Raising Program, please click here to download the volunteer application.
To be a temporary puppy home, individuals under the age of 18 must have an adult in the home trained as well.
Whelping volunteers help with the CPL breeding program by caring for our moms and their litters of puppies during their first eight weeks of life. CPL puppies are whelped on the CPL facility. Volunteers are responsible for assisting with the care of the moms before and after labor. This involves taking the moms out for walks, feeding them meals and monitoring their health. Whelping assistants are also responsible for weighing and monitoring the puppies, cleaning the puppy pens, and, of course, providing many cuddles and kisses! Volunteer shifts are typically between 2–4 hours long and volunteer support is needed 24 hours per day. If you are under the age of 18 and are interested in assisting with this volunteer role, you must have a trained adult volunteer with you.
Home Companion Training Homes
Home companion training homes are essential to the success of our home companion program. These dogs serve as well-trained companions for people with a wide range of physical and/or cognitive challenges; often children with autism or senior adults. While their training protocol is not as extensive as it is for full service dogs, it is critical that home companion dogs have excellent house manners and basic obedience skills. To ensure that goal is reached, the dogs typically spend two to five months in a home companion training home, where their behavior can be “fine-tuned” and potential issues assessed and modified. They do not have public access rights like full service dogs, so public socialization practice is not required. Home companion dogs are often those with very sweet, patient laid back personalities and make the most enjoyable house guests.
Transport volunteers assist CPL by transporting our dogs on the go! A few places our dogs may need a ride are; to and from a veterinary appointment, a puppy or temp home, the airport or one of our prison programs. This is a critical volunteer position that enables the trainers and kennel staff to stay focused on their day, knowing that our dogs are being safely transported by one of our volunteers. Volunteers are welcome to use one of the CPL vans. Since our prisons are a longer drive, for safety reasons we require two volunteers.
Weekend Dog Sitters
Weekend dog sitters work in conjunction with our training staff to give kennel dogs a weekend off — just as we humans get a weekend off! When volunteers have an available weekend, they contact their assigned trainer, who decides what dog would benefit from a weekend visit. Volunteers generally pick up their selected dog on a Friday afternoon and bring them back Monday morning. No public socialization is involved; just hosting the dogs at home, taking them for walks, enjoying their company! Reports completed after the visit help our trainers see how each dog handles time out of the kennel in a home environment.
Cuddle Time Volunteers
Cuddle time volunteers spend time in our comfortably furnished “cuddle room” with one or two dogs at a time that are currently residing in the CPL kennel while undergoing their formal service dog training. Volunteers pet, brush, and massage the dogs, read to them, watch DVDs, sit outside in nice weather, and generally ensure one-on-one personal attention for our kennel residents.
Walking volunteers take dogs from the kennel out individually for leisurely walks around the CPL campus. Dogs are expected to maintain good leash manners but do not have to be in formal heel position. As with cuddle time, walks provide a break for the dogs during the day and help accustom them to working with different handlers. Walking takes place year round so our volunteers learn to dress for the weather and enjoy the changing seasons while exercising our dogs!
How to Get Started!
If you are interested in volunteering for one of these roles, please fill out the application below. If you have questions, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (610) 869‑4902 ext. 229. Please note, if you are a student and are interested in volunteering just for the summer, you need to apply in March or April. It does take over a month to complete orientation and training classes. Thank you for your interest in our program!