How You Can Help Your Local Animal Shelter

I think we can all agree that animal shelters and animal rescues are amazing! With limited resources and staff, they work very hard to improve and save the lives of so many homeless animals. Have you ever found yourself saying, "If I had the money or a bigger home I would adopt more animals!"? Well you're not alone, many people feel that way. Giving an animal a forever home is one of the best ways you can help a shelter, but it’s not always that easy for everyone, even the biggest animal lovers out there. We know owning one dog or cat can be a lot of work and owning multiple pets becomes a lot more work and a lot more money. Adoption isn't the only thing you can do to help out your local shelter or animal rescue though, there are actually a bunch of ways you can contribute and help make a difference in the lives of so many animals! Check out some great ideas below:  

Get to Know Your Local Shelter and Rescue Groups

First thing you should do is find out where your local shelters and rescue groups are located. Learn more about them and what they do. Stop by to introduce yourself personally or give them a call and let them know you are interested in helping them out. The shelter or rescue group may have specific needs and they can let you know where they need the most help.

Spread the Word

Most local shelters have special events, such as adoption day, food drives or fundraisers. Help them out by spreading the word. You can volunteer to hang fliers in local stores or parks around the area, or share these events on social media with all of your friends. The more people that know about the event the better chance it has at being successful.

Volunteer Your Time

Shelters really rely on their volunteers, extra hands are always needed! Here are some examples of  how you can volunteer your time:

  • Have a car? A shelter may need you to help transport animals from the shelter to their vet appointments, or from the shelter to a rescue facility.
  • Are you a dog person? Shelters can always use more help when it comes to socializing and exercising the animals. If you are good with dogs, volunteer an hour or more at your local shelter to play with the dogs or walk them. This kind of engagement really benefits the animals when trying to find a forever home.
  • Are you a cat person? Cats need socialization too. They may not need a walk, but interacting with them by playing and petting will prepare them for a new home.
  • Do you like to clean? Ok probably not, but the shelter can always use help cleaning out cages. It might not be as much fun, but the animals will love you for it!

Donate Supplies

Supplies are always needed whether it's your local shelter or animal rescue. They are usually in need of food, toys, bedding, blankets, litter, crates, first aid or cleaning supplies. Call the local shelter and see what they need or check out their website which may actually have a their wish list of items listed. First check to see if you have any of these requested items around your house you can donate, if not you can always pick something up the next time you are at the store.

 Put Your Special Skills to Good Use

Do you have a talent? If so why not use that to help your local shelter, here are some examples:

  • Are you crafty? If you are the crafty type and love DIYs, your skills could come in handy. You can find tons of ideas on Pinterest!
  • Do they call you the handy man, or woman? Well the shelter could always use a set of good hands for helping to fix or repair things, or possibly build a cat tree.
  • Are you a trainer in training? Many dogs at the shelter could use the training, it will help them in finding a forever home. AND, it's a great way for you to get real experience while being a big help!
  • Are you taking website design classes? Shelters need someone to maintain the look and design of their website. They are consistently updating their websites between the animals coming in and those getting adopted, as well as updating events, contact information, donations, blog updates etc. Your skill could really help them out.
  • Are you a social media guru? Shelters need social media, it is one of the best ways to get the word out to a massive amount people about adoptable pets, lost pets, upcoming events, donations etc. If you are skilled at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you could really help shelters break through all the social media noise and give their posts a better shot of being seen and shared!
  • Have a hobby for photography? Photos for adoption profiles can make a big difference in how fast a pet gets adopted. Good shots can help with the shelters social media efforts as well, we all know the power of a great photo!

Have a Fundraiser

Putting together a fundraiser is a great way to help your shelter get the funds they need in order to continue to do such amazing work. Here are some easy fundraising ideas:

  • It’s Your Birthday! Why not set up a page and instead of gifts ask for donations to your local shelter.
  • Getting Married? In lieu of party favors for your guests make a donation to your local shelter or rescue group in your guest’s honor.
  • Host a fundraising party. Supply the beverages, food and entertainment and ask your guests to donate a basket. Use these baskets as raffle items to raise money for your local shelter or animal rescue.
  • Start a fundraiser at work. You can speak to HR about raising funds or supplies for a local shelter and have a reward set up for the employees who participate. Maybe it’s a casual day or a pizza Friday, whatever works for your office.
  • Get the kid’s involved. Speak to the PTA about organizing a fundraiser at your child’s school. This will give the kids a chance to get involved with helping the animals too. The local shelter could even bring a few of the adoptable pets to the school to teach the kids about the animals they are helping.

Foster an Animal

This may not be for everyone, but if you can take in an animal temporarily this would help the shelter and benefit the animal. Some animals find the shelter extremely stressful and can’t adapt, this makes it harder for them to find a forever home.

Say Thank You

Shelter workers give their whole hearts to their jobs, and are usually buried under never-ending to-do lists and urgent tasks. They usually are overstressed and under-paid. So little things like someone showing how much they appreciate what they’re doing goes a long, long way in restoring the energy and drive they need to continue to help animals. You can do something simple like sending in a thank you card or maybe stopping by with cupcakes or cookies, or ordering pizza for for the staff one day. A little appreciation will make a big difference. When the staff are encouraged and energized, all the animals in the shelter benefit from that positive energy. We hope you enjoyed this post and if you have some more ideas on how to help your local shelter or animal rescue, please leave them in the comments below.