I remember the first time I visited an animal shelter. I can’t say it was my happiest experience; it was sad seeing all of those animals behind chainlink fencing. I asked my mom if I could stay and visit with them so they’d have company; she let me.
Since then, I’ve helped various animal shelters and rescue groups in multiple ways. I’d like to share some creative ways to help those who run them, as well as the animals staying there.
One of the first things to do is learn about your area’s local shelters and rescues. Find out what sort of things they need or could use. While almost every rescue group has ongoing challenges, some might be doing much better overall, while others may be struggling to get by. Find out what’s mission-critical at the moment, but then keep that “giving” energy going with the following ideas.
Spread The Word
Spread any news about the shelter, its current needs, upcoming fundraisers, and animals in need. Post on social media pages and hang fliers about adoption events. Use your social media to share pet profiles.
Be of Service
If you have a car, you could be of service transporting animals. Many shelters and rescues have difficulty getting rides to vet appointments. etc. Offering to drive the animals frees up time for the shelter’s volunteers to get more done around the place.
Often shelters and rescues are short on staff, which means the animals suffer a little in the exercise department. If you’re good with animals, offer to walk dogs for an hour or so a week. Drop in for some ball games and socializing. Let’s not forget about all of the attention and cuddles for the kitties.
More than anything, human interaction, time, love, and care profoundly impact the animal’s quality of life. There are even programs where young kids go to the shelter to “read” to a pet. It helps them, it helps the animal. Win-win!
Round Up Supplies
Many shelters have a wish list of items needed, from toys, food, bedding, and crates, to cleaning supplies, dishes, and litter. Maybe you have something extra around the house you could share, perhaps buy if your budget allows.
Check your local online marketplaces and ask friends and family if they have anything they would be willing to donate. Sometimes hotels have worn bedding and towels, or cleaning supplies they can contribute. Office supply stores are also worth talking to; many shelters need things like ink, paper, and more.
Offer Skills or Talent
Crafters, carpenters, DIY whizzes, lawyers, accountants, dog trainers, and animal experts are more than welcome to offer a helping hand. Whether it’s time, funding, or beneficial information, give it a go and see how it helps.
Anyone can start a fundraiser. These days we can use our birthdays, wedding, celebrations, parties, workplaces, and schools to help raise money for a goal. Maybe a shelter or rescue could use new fencing for the outdoor exercise area; start a fundraiser. This can be a GoFund Me, gift registries, or asking for donations in whichever way is most productive for you.
Being in a shelter is stressful for many animals and makes some harder to adopt out. Shelters are not generally a place where they can thrive. That said, if you can open up your home — even a spare bedroom — to foster an animal, it would be beneficial for both the shelter and the animal.
Most shelters pay for the foster animal’s food and any vet bills; make sure you talk to the local facilities in your area.
Shelter workers, volunteers, and fosters give their time, effort, and hearts to care for and manage many animals. It’s more than a job to them. They’re usually overstressed and underpaid. Showing even the smallest appreciation goes a long way. You could stop in and simply say thanks, send a thank you card, get them a gift card for their favorite restaurant, bake some brownies, whatever it is. Rescue work is unending and often difficult; giving to those who do the heavy lifting is priceless.
Photo by NEOSiAM (Pexels.com)