Volunteering at Animal Rescue Kefalonia (ARK) is a fantastic experience and one that you will never forget. With over 400 dogs and cats to look after, there is always plenty of work to be done. Marina (founder of ARK) and Joyce are the only two people full-time at the shelter, so they rely on help from volunteers to keep the shelter running.
Volunteers come from far and wide. Some are tourists who would like to help out whilst on holiday, and others are people who decide to go to the island specifically to help at the shelter.
On this page, we’ll try to answer any questions you may have about Volunteering at ARK, but if you have a question that we don’t answer, please do get in touch.
Why Volunteer at Animal Rescue Kefalonia (ARK)?
Volunteering at Animal Rescue Kefalonia is simply a fantastic experience! Yes, it can be hard work, but the rewards are priceless. You will be greeted every day by hundreds of wagging tails, and all the dogs and cats love human interaction, so they will want to give you lots of cuddles. In fact, it’s pretty easy to spend all day giving out cuddles and making a fuss of the animals, but that’s an integral part of volunteering too!
Founder and Trustee of ARK Doris UK, Teresa, first went to volunteer at ARK in winter a few years ago, which led to ARK Doris UK being established. So if you’re wondering what a volunteer does on a day to day basis, read all about Teresa’s volunteering week at ARK for all the details!
How to Volunteer at ARK?
Unlike other volunteering abroad programs, volunteering at Animal Rescue Kefalonia is very simple. You can come and volunteer for the time you have available, be that one day, one week or more.
If you’re visiting Kefalonia on holiday and want to come and visit for a few hours, that’s great too. Basically, any help is very much appreciated, so please do come!
You also don’t need to pre-arrange to volunteer; you can just turn up at the shelter. When coming for the first time, it’s best to come earlier in the day or early afternoon so that Marina and Joyce can show you what needs doing. Late afternoon, they are usually busy preparing the food for all the animals, so they don’t have much spare time, so that wouldn’t be the time to come for the first time to ARK. Once you know what to do, you can come and go at the times that suit you during ARK’s opening hours. ARK is open 7 days a week from 10:00-19:00 in the summer and from 10:00-17:00 in the winter.
Volunteering at Animal Rescue Kefalonia FAQs
What is the best time of year to come and volunteer at Animal Rescue Kefalonia?
You can volunteer at ARK at any time of the year. From April to September/early October, there are direct flights to Kefalonia from the UK as it’s the tourist season. June, July and August are when ARK sees most of its visitors and volunteers in line with this. During Autumn/Winter, i.e. late October to March, you would need to take a flight from London to Athens then a local airline, e.g. Aegean Airlines, for the short flight from Athens to Kefalonia. As ARK hardly sees any visitors and volunteers in the Winter months, you will be very welcome if you can come to volunteer during this time!
Do I need to pre-book to volunteer at Animal Rescue Kefalonia?
No, you don’t need to pre-book; you can just turn up. You can visit the shelter 7 days a week from 10:00-19:00 in the summer and from 10:00-17:00 in the winter. When you arrive at ARK, walk up to the Olive tree with the tables and chairs underneath and find Marina or Joyce and introduce yourself.
What kind of things can volunteers help with at the shelter?
The main things that volunteers help with whilst at ARK are poop scooping (there is a lot of it!), cleaning and refilling the water buckets in the pens, washing dog/cat bedding and bowls and socialising with the animals. Many of the animals have only ever known life on the street or in a shelter, so having positive human interaction is essential for them. Many will greet you eagerly like a long lost friend, and others will take time to build trust with you but time spent with the animals is definitely the best part of a volunteer’s day.
If you have a specific skill such as dog grooming, then that is always welcome at ARK…there are always lots of dogs in need of a haircut!
I don’t have much experience working with animals, is that a problem?
No, not at all. There is plenty to do that suits everyone’s skills and abilities. For example, if you are not confident going into the pens with the larger dogs, there are pens with smaller dogs or puppies. Or, you can help with the washing of the dog/cat bedding and bowls or socialising with the cats in Cat World.
Where do volunteers stay/do you provide accommodation?
Unfortunately, ARK is not able to provide any accommodation onsite at the shelter. Most volunteers stay nearby in the main town of Argostoli, which is about a 30-minute walk to ARK or the nearby beach area of Lassi, which is a 40-minute walk. There are plenty of reasonably priced hotels on sites like Booking.com or rooms/houses to stay on Airbnb. If you do book a place to stay through a site like Booking.com, please do so using Easyfundraising as you will not pay any extra, but Easyfundraising will make a donation to ARK. Read about Easyfundraising and how you can use it to raise funds for Animal Rescue Kefalonia whilst you shop online at hundreds of different sites here.
Another option is Camping Argostoli, where you can book tents and caravans. The Camping Argostoli is opposite Fanari Beach, about a 15-minute drive from ARK and has the benefit of being a place where you can quickly meet other people if you’re travelling alone. See what’s available at Camping Argostoli on Booking.com
Is there anything I need to do before volunteering?
It’s recommended that you ensure your tetanus jabs are up to date.
What’s the best way to get to the shelter?
Argostoli is approximately a 30-minute walk to the shelter, and Lassi approx a 40-minute walk to the shelter. You could also hire a bike or car, and directions on how to get to Animal Rescue Kefalonia can be found on this page. It’s also not expensive to get a taxi to ARK (under 10 Euros) from Argostoli. Marina or Joyce can then call one for you when you’re ready to go back to Argostoli, or you can likely grab a lift with one of the other volunteers at ARK.
What should I wear when I come to volunteer?
Be prepared to get dirty and smelly, so we recommend you wear old clothes or at least not your best clothes! Closed-toe comfy shoes/hiking boots are also recommended. Bring a few pairs of hard-wearing gloves, e.g. washable gardening gloves too.
During summer, it can be sweltering, so most volunteers like to wear a hat or a cap, and of course, sunscreen is essential. During winter it can rain more often so bring a light raincoat too.
I don’t speak Greek, is that a problem?
No, not at all. Marina speaks fluent Greek, Spanish and a little English. Joyce speaks fluent Dutch, English and Greek. English is usually the common language amongst the volunteers. The dogs and cats speak woof and meow but love cuddles in any language.