How to volunteer for emergency response

When there’s an emergency, are you the type of person who springs into action? Best Friends Animal Society’s emergency response department is looking for superhero volunteers like you who can help pets who have been affected by a disaster.

To learn about emergency response volunteer opportunities, please watch this informational webinar.

Current volunteer opportunities within emergency response

Emergency shelter operation teams

Emergency shelter operation teams (ESOT) deploy to locations where disasters have occurred to help care for displaced and homeless companion animals. There are a variety of positions that form a complete team, including:

  • Animal care specialists
  • Transport coordinators
  • Volunteer coordinators
  • Logistics and maintenance specialists

To volunteer, you will be asked to select your top three choices of positions and participate in an in-person introductory training. You must be able to commit to at least one two-week deployment during the calendar year.

Requirements for ESOT participation:

1. Watch the emergency response webinar.

2. Sign the volunteer commitment letter. (Signing the letter will notify us of your interest in joining ESOT and ensure that you receive updates regarding the program.)

3. Complete prerequisite training through FEMA’s online Emergency Management Institute.

The FEMA courses are located under the “Independent Study” tab, or you can access them through the links below. Once you’ve registered and obtained a student ID (SID) number, you can take each course. All of the courses are free and include a quiz; you will be provided with a course completion certificate.

Links to FEMA courses:

4. Submit FEMA certificates of completion to the Best Friends Volunteer Center:

Once the above four steps are completed, you will receive an invitation to the ESOT one-day training.

2020 training schedule for ESOT:

  • Washington, D.C., metro area: March 14
  • Kanab, Utah: Postponed until further notice
  • Salt Lake City, Utah: July 18
  • Seattle, Washington: August 29

Requirements for ESOT participation

Medical veterinary teams

Medical veterinary teams (MVT) provide medical and veterinary care to animals at Best Friends emergency shelters. MVT volunteers are veterinarians, certified veterinary technicians, or veterinary assistants or nurses. To join MVT as a volunteer, you will be asked to watch a one-hour webinar. You must be able to commit to at least one five-day deployment during the year.

If you are interested in joining MVT, please complete the veterinary professional survey and a Best Friends staff member will be in touch with more information.


Don’t see a volunteer opportunity that suits you? Best Friends is continuing to develop volunteer opportunities to support emergency response work. Sign up through our online volunteer portal to receive notifications of future volunteer opportunities within emergency response.

First-time volunteers click here

Previous volunteers click here

If you have any questions, please email us at emergencyresponsevol@bestfriends.org.