With millions of animals entering shelters every year, one of the best things you can do is adopt a shelter animal. However, due to living situations, work schedules, and financial restrictions, many people cannot bring a pet permanently into their homes. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to help homeless animals and shelters. If you’d like to make a difference for homeless animals, the following options could be for you.
Take some time to learn about the biggest issues that homeless animals and animal shelters face. Many people don’t know that shelters cannot take in an unlimited number of homeless animals, and in the United States alone 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized annually due to overpopulation and lack of resources. By learning these staggering facts, you’ll be ready to help educate others and encourage more people to spay and neuter their pets.
Spread the word
Help raise awareness of homeless animals and the difficulties that shelters face by telling your friends, neighbors, and anyone who will listen! Follow shelters and humane societies on social media and share their posts and stories with your followers. Many shelters have fantastic social media accounts, where they will post animals who are seeking homes and facts about animals in need.
Foster a critter
If you are unable to permanently adopt, but are able to look after an animal for a short period of time, consider fostering. Due to overcrowding, limited staff and resources, many shelters cannot take on all of the animals that are brought in. By fostering, you free up space at the shelter for more animals to be rescued, and provide care to an animal before they find their forever home. Many shelters provide training, food, and resources to fully prepare you for fostering your first animal. It is also a great way to learn what it’s like to care for an animal before fully committing to your own pet.
Volunteer in a shelter
Shelters and humane societies are always short handed, and greatly appreciate help on-site. Volunteers often assist with petting and comforting animals to calm them and provide socialization, as well as grooming the animals. Many shelters also have volunteers walk dogs to get them exercise and time outdoors, and even train them to learn tricks and general obedience, which makes them much more likely to be adopted.
Volunteer your unique skills
While dog walking, petting, and grooming are all extremely important in shelters, there are also various tasks that require specific skills you may possess. Is your day job in marketing? Help by volunteering to run a shelter’s social media account. Are you a great photographer? Why not donate your time and talents by taking photos of the animals to show just how cute they are! Are you great at administration and organization? Many shelters desperately need a hand with documentation and recordkeeping.
If you don’t have much free time, or the shelter is difficult to access, you can still help by donating to the cause. Financial contributions help shelters purchase supplies, pay staff, and keep the facilities in working order. You can also donate supplies such as dog or cat food, clean grooming tools, leashes, crates, and toys. A great way to donate even more is to organize a community donation drive.
Similarly to a community donation drive, you can help homeless animals by organizing a fundraiser. Ask local businesses if they will donate items to be auctioned, with all proceeds going to the shelter. Ask friends and family to donate, or organize a community event in order to raise money and awareness.
While these are all great options for helping homeless animals, the best thing you can do is contact your local shelter or humane society and ask how you can help.
Featured image: a mom and her pups in a shelter. Image credit Kim Bartlett – Animal People, Inc.