For most dog lovers, no matter how strong that desire to take home every pup in every animal shelter, it’s simply not possible.
Perhaps the landlord does not allow pets. Or, you love dogs but your current furry family prefers to be the only one in the home. Maybe you spend too many long hours at work, or you simply have allergies.
Whatever the reason, the good news is that there are many other ways for dog lovers to help their local shelters or rescue organizations without actually bringing a new best friend home.
1. Donate money. A vast majority of shelters and rescue facilities are solely funded by donations. And, every single one of them will tell you, honestly, that every little bit counts. For example, your $15 could fund a monthly flea treatment, $50 might pay for a heartworm test, $60 for a full medical exam, $90 for vaccinations and microchip ID insertion, and $150 for neuter/spay surgery. In addition to providing food and medical care to rescued animals, shelters depend on donations to fund day-to-day operations, too.
2. Contribute supplies. It’s very likely that your local shelters have a long wish list of supplies and other equipment necessary for rescue operations. Those old dog crates, blankets, towels, or even used computers of yours can be of immeasurable value to rescuers. And, while shelters do often get donations of food, treats, and toys for the animals in their care, they also are always in need of supplies you may not have considered – paper towels, cleaning supplies, laundry soap, printer paper, office supplies, and the like. While these items aren’t as “fun” to donate, they’ll be just as appreciated!
3. Offer your special skills. Are you a great graphic artist, a bookkeeper, an attorney, carpenter, photographer, or a seamstress? Your local shelter just may be in need of someone with your unique skills and experience. Remember that there are lots of aspects of the lifesaving work- from administrative work, animal training, grooming, and feeding, to site maintenance, adoption events, community outreach, and fundraising. Think of your own skillset and how it may be of use to your local rescue organization and offer your time and expertise.
4. Groom and train the pets. With millions of dogs and cats in shelters at any given time, there is ALWAYS bathing, grooming, and training to be done. A clean, well-groomed dog is far more likely to be adopted to a loving family than a dirty one in need of a haircut or nail trim. If you can’t adopt but want to help your local shelter, offer your time, even just a couple of hours every week, for bathing and brushing the dogs. Another huge help for shelters and rescues is basic obedience training. You don’t have to be an expert or certified trainer to donate your time to interact, socialize, and teach basic manners skills to shelter dogs. Simple training exercises, like sit, lay down, and stay, can be taught using skills you can learn right here. Spending a few hours a week working with shelter dogs will not only make them much more easily adoptable, the dogs will love the extra attention you’re giving them!
5. Network, network, network. Although shelters and rescues typically have websites, social media pages, or adoptable pet listings online, they will always appreciate your help in spreading the word about animals in need. Assist rescue groups and animal shelters by sharing and posting photos and videos of rescue pooches to your own social networks. That little bit of extra exposure could reach the perfect forever family for a dog in need of a home. To help further, take some time visiting dogs at your local shelter, get to know them yourself, learn their personalities, their likes and dislikes – then tell their story!
You see, while shelters rely on adopters to free up space for newly rescued animals to be saved, there is an entire behind-the-scenes operation that’s often overlooked, but every bit as important to helping save the lives of our four-legged friends.
Do you have any additional suggestions for dog lovers that would like to help their local shelter but can’t adopt? Please, share them in a comment below!