D.V.P – Defender Volunteer Program

Hey Defenders! Thanks for visiting our Defender Volunteer Program! Here you will find all the information needed to be a part of the Defender Volunteer Program with the Critter Squad Wildlife Defenders. Be sure to call our main office at (818) 654-9433 if you have any questions regarding the D.V.P

  • Provide defender volunteers experience working in a team-based animal education program with the potential for continued future employment with C.S.W.D
  • Provide a respected defender volunteer program allowing defender a chance to gain valuable experience working with diverse animal ambassadors.
  • Train potential animal keepers in order to support future growth of the Critter Squad Wildlife Defender Zoo.
  • Create more enrichment opportunities for animal ambassadors by allowing defender volunteers time to monitor, observe and interact with the animal ambassadors.

Defender Volunteer Expectations

Defender volunteers are encouraged to voice their interests during their defender volunteer program in order to get the most out of their experience. At the Critter Squad Wildlife Defenders we hope to provide each defender volunteer with a specific, individualized training experience that can foster their understanding, interest and motivation for working with animals. Generally, defender volunteers will be expected to complete any tasks that facilitate upward functioning of Critter Squad Wildlife Defender’s Zoo. Tasks that will be assigned may include animal care/enrichment, facility maintenance, communications, assisting team members with tasks, etc. Defender volunteers will only be allowed to interact with animals based on their Level (see below regarding Level explanation). Defender volunteers may also have the opportunity to shadow staff members during animal presentations in the field.

Being Accepted as a Defender Volunteer

Any individual can potentially be accepted as a defender volunteer. To become a volunteer with the Critter Squad Wildlife Defenders a few requirements must be met.

  • Must be at least 16 years old (anyone under the age of 18 needs parental permission.)
  • Must be at least be 18 years old to be a level three or beyond.
  • Must be interview by the Critter Squad Volunteer Coordinator.
  • Must complete a live scan and TB test.
  • Must complete Volunteer Application.
  • Must complete Volunteer Initiation Packet.
  • Must come to orientation meeting for the specific volunteer level you are volunteering for.

Defender Volunteer Application

A defender volunteer application must be on file before any new defender volunteers will be accepted into the Defender Volunteer Program. Defender volunteer applications can be downloaded from our website and sent in via email.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR Critter Volunteer Program Application

After filling out the defender volunteer application you can snail mail it to our P.O box or you can email it directly to us. Please see the Contact Us page for details.

  • Must be at least 16 years old (anyone under the age of 18 needs parental permission.)
  • Must be at least be 18 years old to be a level three or beyond.
  • Must be interview by the Critter Squad Volunteer Coordinator.
  • Must complete a live scan and TB test.
  • Must complete Volunteer Application.
  • Must complete Volunteer Initiation Packet.
  • Must come to orientation meeting for the specific volunteer level you are volunteering for.

Defender Initiation Packet

An defender initiation packet is created for every defender volunteer after they have completed their interview. The defender initiation packet is a series of documents the Critter Squad Wildlife Defender needs to have on file before defender volunteer services can be accepted.

Defender Orientation Meetings

A defender orientation meeting will be held once every three months, for each of the 5 volunteer groups. If an orientation meeting is missed, then the defender volunteer must wait until the following month to enter another defender orientation meeting.

In defender orientation meetings, the defender volunteers will learn entire breakdowns of their new volunteer levels and all the things they can work to complete at that stage.

Defender Orientation Meetings will focus on:

  • Handling animals
  • Safety/first aid
  • Cleaning of cages
  • Proper cage setup
  • Animal Nutrition
  • Public interactions/ walking/ assisted petting
  • Enrichment

Defender volunteers MUST attend the defender orientation meetings. Defender volunteers cannot activate the next defender volunteer level without first attending the orientation meeting, no matter how good the defender volunteer is or how long they have volunteered.

All defender orientation meetings must be signed off on the orientation meeting sign out sheet, which is kept in the volunteer packet.

Please see the defender orientation meeting schedule to find out when your next defender orientation meeting will be.

Defender Orientation Meetings will focus on:

The defender volunteer levels are created by the Critter Squad Wildlife Defenders to show how aggressive or hard to handle an animal is (Level 1 is least challenging or aggressive animals, level 5 is most challenging or aggressive animals). Defender volunteers must complete a certain number of hours before being able to work with higher level animals. Defender volunteers who are interested in increasing their animal skills sets will be expected to practice handling, cleaning and completing other tasks while completing their hours per each level.


Once hours are completed and signed off by the Volunteer Coordinator, the defender volunteer is able to advance and practice working with higher level animals. Defender volunteers might be asked to perform certain tasks with the animals to test their skills before advancing to the next level.

If a defender volunteer skips/misses any volunteer meeting for 1 year straight then they must restart the entire defender volunteer levels from the beginning if they would like to start defending again.

Defender Eligibility For Next Level

Below is the eligibility breakdown for being able to move to the next defender volunteer level. The D.V.P is a longevity program that encourages volunteers to remain with the Critter Squad. The longer you volunteer the more experience you can gain.

  • LEVEL 1: 20 hours or Test
  • LEVEL 2: 20 hours or Test
  • LEVEL 3: 40 hours or Test
  • LEVEL 4: 40 hours or Test
  • LEVEL 5: 60 hours or Test

Next level tests can only be taken after half the hours have been complete.