According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. As most shelters function with limited resources and publicity, they need as much help and as many animal shelter donations as they can get to continue the amazing work they perform for the community.
If you’d like to help out your local animal rescue or humane society, there are plenty of ways to do so, like donating dog food. Whether an animal shelter has helped you find your furry best friend, or you just like giving back, here are some creative ways to help your local shelter or rescue group:
Even if a humane society has enough animal shelter donations, there needs to be enough people to physically care for all the animals. The more animal shelter volunteers, the better, as more care and love can be given to each animal. Walking dogs, for instance, “helps get rid of pent-up frustration and helps them be more apt to be adopted out,” says Jeanne Blandford, Director of Marketing at Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet. So, call up or go down to your local shelter to find out how you can be an animal shelter volunteer.
Use Your Occupational Speciality
Everyone has a special skill set, and whether you’re an accountant, a photographer or working at a grocery store, you can help!
Pet rescues have loads of accounting paper work, including invoicing animal shelter donations, grants, fees paid by doctors and animal care expenses, so an accountant donating just some of their time can be a huge help. Photographers can contribute as well, by using their skills for advertisements and to help pets get adopted. If you are looking to donate dog food and work at a grocery store, “you can give pet foods close to being expired to your shelter,” Blandford says. Regardless of your skill set or occupation, give your local pet shelter a call, and chances are they’ll have a use for your skills!
Run a Community Yard Sale
While there are many ways to raise money to benefit your local humane society, a yard sale is a fun way to get the whole community involved. In addition to helping your local pet shelter by raising money and spreading awareness, you’ll be helping people get rid of stuff they don’t need anymore, and helping other people get bargains on those items! If you want to do more than just raise money, you can take it a step further: “Most shelters post a wish list,” Blandford says, so you can work with your community to raise money to purchase as many animal shelter donations on the wish list as possible!
Bring Other Non-Profits Together
Blandford recalls a heartwarming story where she collected old jeans, and then brought them to the senior center where they then made toys for an animal shelter. This is a win-win situation, as the seniors helping can feel great about doing something for someone else, and the animals at the pet shelters will have new toys to play with.
Think about non-profits or groups that you’re involved with, and chances are there’s a way that they can help. Whether you’re involved with yoga or a bike club, having a group of people that can come together to help is a great opportunity.
Fostering a pet, usually for a 2-month period, helps increase the chances of adoption and frees up space at shelters for other animals in need. Fostering a pet can also show the animals that they’re loved and gives people a better evaluation of the animal.
One meaningful fostering program that Blandford mentioned is fostering for local domestic violence victims. A victim with a pet “often won’t leave their abuser because they’re afraid to leave their pet,” explains Blandford. Fostering a pet until the victim can find a place to live and reunite with their pet is an impactful way to make a difference in the life of the animal and their pet parent.
"Education is really big for shelters," says Blandford. “You can help them educate about the importance of different programs,” she says. For instance, Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) programs can have a huge impact on the number of cats brought to animal rescues. In this initiative, people humanely trap feral cats, bring them to the veterinarian to be spayed or neutered and vaccinated and then safely return them to the outdoors. This vastly reduces the number of cats going into shelters, which makes room for cats and dogs in need of supplies and volunteers. The alternative to this has been catching and killing outdoor cats to control their population, so helping people learn about programs such as TNR can make quite a difference.
Support Causes That Are Already Helping Shelters
There are many organizations that have the same goals as you—helping animals in need. As much as part of us would like to donate all our money, or become an animal shelter volunteer, it’s important for us to take care of our own animals as well. Luckily, Chicken Soup for the Soul has the ‘Fill a Bowl… Feed a Soul’ program to help feed pets in shelters across North America. For every Chicken Soup for the Soul product a retailer purchases, they will donate one pound of dog food or cat food to achieve their goal of providing one million meals. As customers like you buy more Chicken Soup for the Soul, retailers order more to meet the demand, allowing you to spend money for your pet in a way that helps other dogs and cats in addition to your own.