It’s me, the executive director! I’ve been getting a lot of emails and phone calls from people interested in volunteering! You’re all awesome, and I wish I could say yes, but there are tons of reasons why, unlike most rehabilitation facilities, we don’t allow on-site volunteers from the general public.
The main thing? Insurance! We handle animals that are considered either inherently dangerous or high-risk for rabies. We pay nearly a thousand dollars per year just for liability insurance for our education ambassadors, who aren’t even handled by the public. 😱 When we’ve priced out comprehensive liability insurance that would cover (for example) a volunteer getting exposed to rabies and needing the post-exposure series, or missed work because a volunteer got sprayed by a skunk and isn’t allowed into work, the cheapest we see costs ten times that. Ack!
I knowingly take risks to my safety by running For Fox Sake, knowing that I am not covered in the event of a serious injury, but I can’t ask the general public to do the same. While this could theoretically be addressed by asking volunteers to sign a waiver, lawyers have informed me that those waivers almost never hold up in court and that it would be unwise to allow volunteers who may not follow them.
Another issue is ethics. As many times as I see “I want to pet it!” and “Can I adopt it?” messages, it’s hard for me to trust that anyone without a background in wildlife rehabilitation will respect that these are wild animals and that they need to be treated like wild animals. Cuddling and playing with them just makes it less likely that they can be released, and I don’t know who to trust.
Then there’s the personal side of things. While you may not know it from my internet presence, I actually have terrible social anxiety and I don’t do well with people, especially strangers! For Fox Sake is built in my backyard and I am pretty freaked out by the idea of people I don’t know well coming into my space. I’m the kind of person who sings to myself (badly) while cleaning cages and sometimes walks past windows without getting fully dressed, and I’d rather just do all the work myself than risk having people I don’t know around me (and my wife and kids!) at odd hours.
We do have a few volunteers here, though, so you may occasionally see posts that include or mention other people, especially members of the For Fox Sake Board of Directors. These volunteers are people with backgrounds working with wildlife who I have personally known for many years and trust not to play with the animals or sue For Fox Sake if they get hurt. Please don’t take it personally that some people volunteer here but you can’t!
Thank you all for understanding. It means the world to me that so many people want to help, and I’m sorry that circumstances don’t allow that to be a viable option here.