Wayside Waifs

Become a Volunteer

Now accepting new volunteers!

Thank you for thinking of Wayside Waifs as the place to donate your time. The success of our Volunteer Program is not only measured by the dedication of time given by our remarkable volunteers, but by the selfless acts they contribute to make life better for homeless companion animals.

You will find getting involved at Wayside Waifs to be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Two orientations are offered each month, excluding December. We are able to accommodate up to 30 new applicants in each session. Our regular volunteer program asks for a weekly commitment for at least three months. This provides the consistency our animals and volunteers need to succeed.

If you are looking for a shorter donation of time, a group project or if you have teens under 13 who are interested in giving back, take a look at the additional opportunities that support our Mission and the animals in our care. These include our Team Service Program, Group Service Projects, Kids in Action programming, donation drives and other projects. Learn more.  

Currently our New Volunteer Program is on "paws" as we pivot some of our programs and training due to the pandemic. We invite you to add your name to the waiting list and we will contact you as soon as we are ready!

For more information about helping Wayside, please send us an email or contact us at 816-986-4431.

Add your name to the waiting list
Become a Volunteer

Volunteer Opportunities

Here are some ways volunteers help us meet our Mission and provide care for our animals!

During a volunteer's first thirty days, these are the opportunities available.

Canine Care Team

Volunteers help the Canine Care Team with a variety of tasks.  These include cleaning and sanitizing kennels, picking up and distributing blankets and toys, and providing food and water to dogs. These volunteers may also be asked to help get housebroken dogs out for potty breaks.

Feline Care Team

Volunteers support the Feline Care Team with a variety of tasks. These include cleaning and sanitizing kennels, picking up and distributing blankets and toys, and providing food and water.

Dog Socializers

This position works directly with the dogs, providing them consistent touch, training, and basic needs fulfillment.  Volunteers will help dogs by walking them and providing human to canine socialization time.  Many volunteers will find they prefer to work with small/large dogs, shy/fearful dogs, high energy dogs, or dogs that are showing signs of stress at the shelter.

Cat Socializers

This position works directly with the cats, providing them consistent touch and basic needs fulfillment.  This volunteer role is also about keeping a clean, healthy environment in Cat Adoption.

Humane Education Instructors

For more information, please visit our Humane Education Program page.

Foster Care

For more information, please visit our Foster Care Program page

Group Service Projects

Groups can be as small as four or as large as 20, depending on the current needs of the shelter. Our needs are continually changing, and we will typically know at the beginning of each month what group activities are available. All members of the group must be at least 16 years old. Groups with participants under the age of 16 should contact our Humane Education department about opportunities, and are encouraged to participate in the Service Projects listed below. 

Since special training is required to work with shelter animals, group acitivites do not include direct animal contact. Individuals interested in working directly with animals should complete an Adult Inquiry and be able to donate three months of weekly shifts. 

Groups often help with events, shelter clean up, and various support roles. For example, One of our regular needs at the shelter, that directly impacts the health and quality of life for our animals, is laundry. At any given time, we have 80-120 dogs housed at the shelter. EVERY animal deserves clean bedding. Keeping our laundry folded, sorted and in order is a challenging task..to say the least. In addition, our staff is providing new enrichment to our animals and this takes time. This enrichment provides outlets for mental stimulation to our dogs, two things that are necessary to a happy life.  

We can also come to you! Would you like to learn more about Wayside Waifs, and how your organization can help homeless animals in the Kansas City area? A Wayside team member would be delighted to come to your organization to host a Lunchtime Learning Session. We will introduce you to all the great things happening at Wayside and how your company and employees can get involved.

While we have many on-site volunteer opportunities, your organization can also benefit the animals by hosting a drive to collect needed shelter items or monetary donations. If you are interested, we are also able to schedule a tour when you drop off items and money raised.

In addition, if your company is interested in sponsoring a Wayside event, click here for more information.


Service Projects

There are a variety of ways you can help the animals who are temporarily housed at Wayside Waifs. Teens looking to complete 5 hours or less of school or civic community service hours should contact us for availability. A limited number of slots are available monthly, so please contact us early to get scheduled.

Surf the net for the animals

Set your search engine to www.goodsearch.com. Let them know that you are supporting Wayside Waifs. Every search you make sends money to the animals. It is a Yahoo! search engine, so get surfing!

Hold a blanket/towel drive

All animals housed at the shelter are provided with something soft to lay and sleep on. New or old, your blankets and towels will help make shelter animals stay more comfortable.

Collect wish list items

Our wish list identifies items the shelter needs year round. Organize a drive to collect these items and then bring them to the shelter.


Each participating group will complete a community service project directly affecting the quality of life and well-being of the animals staying at Wayside Waifs. Projects may vary depending on shelter needs and will not include direct contact with the animals. Learn more.


Volunteer Benefits

Although puppy tail wags and kitten kisses are a given, there are many more rewards to volunteering.


  • Discounted flea and tick treatment
  • 25% discount on pet adoptions
  • 25% discount of annual Bark Park membership and daily passes
  • 25% discount of pet cremation services and 10% off urns
  • 10% discount in Whiskers and Wags Boutique
  • Annual picnic

Educational Opportunities

Wayside Waifs is committed to learning and encourages continued education for volunteers and staff. An average of 15-20 different learning opportunities are offered each year. Listed below are some examples of classes offered regularly at the shelter. Only staff and volunteers are able to participate in these classes, as they are not open to the public.

Cat 101

Cat 101 is a two hour introductory training focused on cat socialization, disease prevention, and basic feline care. The class will review: feline body language, proper techniques for handling cats, reading kennel cards, reading feline-ality results, sanitation procedures, communication procedures, comfort care and the adoption process. The remainder of the class is a tour of the Cat Adoption area and hand-on experience.

Cat Behavior

Cat Behavior is a 2 hour training to teach volunteers and staff how to read cat behavior, body language and signals. You'll learn how to appropriately interact with unfamiliar cats, thus reducing stress, anxiety and increasing adoptability for long term and stressed cats. This class is available after you have taken the Cat 101 training and is strongly encouraged.


Feline-ality is a research-based assessment of a cat's behavior and interests that matches the adopter preferences with an animal's behavior. Learn the different feline-alities of the cats, what the color coded cards mean, how to score an Adopter Survey and how it all helps cats find their best matched family!

Meet and Greet (Cat and Dog)

Meet and Greet is a one-on-one training class for staff and volunteers to learn how to properly introduce potential adopters to dogs. This class will give you tools for reading kennel cards and communicating information to potential adopters. The class will also review procedures for handling the animals in the kennel and the play areas. 

Dog 101

Dog 101 is a two hour introductory training focused on dog socialization, disease prevention, and basic canine care. The class will review: canine body language, proper techniques for handling dogs, reading kennel cards, dog walking procedures, safety and sanitation procedures, communication procedures, comfort care and the adoption process. The remainder of the class is a tour of the Dog Adoption area and hands-on experience walking dogs.  

Dog Behavior 

Dog Behavior is a one and a half hour training class for staff and volunteers to ensure that we are consistent in teh way we communicate with our animals and our adopters. This class provides an overview of: Wayside's training philosophy, basic training techniques and how to interact with a shelter dog. We will also discuss Wayside's commitment to shelter enrichment and the power of play.   

Beginner's Dog Agility

Beginner's Dog Agility is an introductory class. Participants will spend 1.5 hours learning: course safety, warm up and cool down procedures, policies for park use, basic obedience commands, positive training techniques, shaping and luring, foundation ground work and navigating obstacles. They will be given hands-on experience in the agility park with three dogs.  

Shy and Fearful Behavior Modification (Confidence College)

This class focuses on working with dogs who are fearful, shut down, or under socialized. You will learn: shy and fearful canine body language, how to properly interact with a shy and fearful dog, stress escalation, slow and low training, confidence building exercises and enrichment. 

High Arousal Behavior Modification (Peace Academy)

This class focuses on active positive training methods and games for high arousal dog behavior such as: leash pulling, excessive barking, mouthing and jumping. We will investigate high stress and high arousal canine behaviors, how to properly interact with a high arousal dog, positive leadership, impulse-control exercises and enrichment. This class teaches tools that can be used with a variety of dogs to help them with their mental health and manners. 

Bunny 101

Bunny 101 is a one hour introduction to house rabbits. The training will present proper rabbit housing, nutrition, grooming and exercise. Rabbit body language and handling techniques will be shown and participants will have the opportunity to practice handling rabbits. The class will conclude by giving tips and topics for communicating with potential adopters.