Animal shelters need our help. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, animal shelters and rescues have been working with reduced staff and resources. Plenty of people have stepped up to foster or adopt animals in need—but it’ll take a broader, nationwide effort to save animal organizations across the country, says David Meyer, Adopt-A-Pet CEO.
“This is a coming tidal wave,” he told Chewy VP of Healthcare and Shelters Mita Malhotra in an Instagram Live chat Friday. From decreases in adoptions and donations to increases in animals being relinquished to shelters, there could be some difficult challenges ahead for animal advocates. “We’re doing everything we can to prepare for that,” Meyer says.
At Chewy, supporting shelters and rescues is part of our DNA. That’s why we’ve donated over $5 million to support shelters and rescues during the pandemic. So naturally, we’re loving all the creative ways shelters and pet people have come together for the greater good. Check out these out-of-the-box ways to support shelters—and get in on the action yourself! #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving taking place May 5, 2020, is the perfect time to start.
1. Buy a Priceless Painting—by a Pig
In uncertain times, animal shelters are getting creative. Case in point: the Vegas Pet Rescue Project (VPRP), which has enlisted one of its star rescues, a pig named Leroy, to raise funds to keep the shelter afloat.
Leroy is a piggy Picasso, creating abstract art with his snout and tongue using pet-safe paint. Like most valuable works of art, Leroy’s masterpieces are selling at auction, with proceeds supporting the VPRP’s operations. Just look how proud he is of his work!
Do you want one of Leroy’s paintings hanging in your own home? How could you not? You can head to the Vegas Pet Rescue Project’s Facebook page to bid on the masterpiece Leroy’s painted above. As a bonus, Chewy will send a Goody Box to the highest bidder!
2. Celebrate $3 Shelter Challenge Month
You may have heard about people across the country donating part or all of their stimulus checks to organizations they care about most. But you don’t have to break the bank to make a difference. May is also the annual $3 Shelter Challenge month.
Started by a New Jersey woman in 2015, the challenge asks pet lovers to give just $3 to a shelter or rescue they care about. It may be a small sum to you, but just think about the impact you’d have if everyone in your community gave $3!
You can give directly to your local shelter, Meyer says, or go to AdoptAPetCares.org, where you can donate to a fund to support the shelters most in need across the country. Either way, your donation makes a difference. And don’t forget to encourage your family, friends and neighbors to give, too!
3. Walk It Out
In-person fundraising walk-a-thons probably aren’t returning anytime soon. But shelters like the Central Vermont Humane Society haven’t canceled their annual events. They’ve moved them online.
Participants can collect donations for the shelter’s annual Walk for the Animals through a website in advance of the May 30 deadline. Along the way, the humane society will be hosting fun online events like a pet costume contest. And yes, you can still take your pet for a 1-on-1 walk to mark the occasion. For a little added community spirit, you can videochat with friends during your walk, or even livestream it on your social channels.
If your favorite shelter doesn’t have any virtual events coming up, you can also earn cash for them simply by tracking your daily walks, using phone apps like WoofTrax, ResQWalk and Charity Miles. You can walk, run or bike with all three, but your impact will be the same: sending a little extra support to animals in your area and keeping yourself fit in the process.
That’s just the beginning. Check out these other ways you can help:
- 4. Donate Products: One great way to support your local shelter, Meyer says, is to donate supplies. Find a shelter in your area, he suggests, then call them to ask what they need and purchase the products from Chewy.com. Many organizations have wishlists that lay out exactly what products they need.
- 5. Provide Transport: Some shelters need volunteers to drive pets to and from other shelters they work with. Hey, after being at home for weeks on end, a long drive with a furry companion sounds pretty great!
- 6. Host a Fundraiser: Social apps have made it super easy to host your own fundraiser. On Facebook, for example, you can tap the “support nonprofit” button, choose your favorite org, and post your own call to action. With so many people at home scrolling through their feeds right now, your message has the opportunity to reach your entire social circle.
- 7. Share Shelters’ Social Posts: When you see a shelter posting about an animal in need on Facebook, Instagram or other apps, boost that signal by sharing it with your own social network. By endorsing the group and its mission to your followers, you’re adding extra weight to their message.
- 8. Be an Advocate: Should your city or town do more to support its local shelter? Call or write your elected officials and tell them so. You can also make a difference by supporting any animal-friendly measures coming up for a vote in your local elections.
- 9. Shop Mindfully: Support businesses and brands that support pets. Lucy & Co., for example, donates bandanas and leashes to shelters. Found My Animal, another pet brand, donates part of the proceeds from its sales to rescue groups and devotes part of its website to highlighting shelter pets. And Chewy has continued its support of animal shelters by donating over
- 10. Share Your Skills: If you’re a writer, volunteer to write adoption profiles. If you’re a lawyer or an accountant, offer to help with operational paperwork. Expert crafters can sew “adopt me” bandanas for the pets. Think about the skills you have, then imagine how you can apply them to help your local shelter—or simply call them up and ask how they can use you!
The bottom line? “There’s a lot more to be done when we join forces,” Malhotra says. So no matter who you are, there’s a way for you to help a shelter in need. For more ways to give back, watch the full Fireside Chat with David Meyer and Mita Malhotra below.