7 Ways You Can Help Animal Shelters

Ways You Can Help Animal Shelters

I’m a traveling yoga instructor on tour with a Broadway show. Every 7-14, I arrive in a new city with my book-bag and iPad in tow. I’ve always loved helping animal shelters, so fundraising on the road is one way to maintain something I enjoy doing back home. I’ve spent quite a lot of time at various shelters and have learned about what’s needed most. If you’re interested in helping, you can—even if you’re on a tight budget or unable to adopt. Here are seven ideas to consider if you’d like to be of service.

1. Coordinate a food and supplies drive

Shelters are always in need of supplies (e.g. linens, food and toys), and a few cleaning or pet care products go a long way. Contact your local animal shelter and see which items are a priority. Once you have a list, coordinate a drive at your workplace, classes, or house of worship. A simple cardboard box, poster and a few emails are all you’ll need to make this happen.

Consider doing this several times a year to help your local shelter on a regular basis. I teach yoga classes where the donations are given to shelters nearest to the studio. Consider teaching a yoga, fitness or dance class, then donate the proceeds—it feels great to do good!

Must Read: What Type of Pet is Best for You?

2. Say thanks

Simply stopping in and saying thanks to the staff at your local shelter is a great way to make an ordinary day awesome. Expressing gratitude to the individuals who are caring for critters in need is a wonderful thing to do, plus it’s a great way to introduce yourself and learn about other ways you could help out. Find a nearby shelter and swing by with some pet food for the animals and donuts for the staff; you’ll feel wonderful, and brighten the day for others as well!

3. Share your skills

Are you a graphic designer, photographer or attorney? Do you have a hobby or passion, like knitting or carpentry? Shelters often need help with general repairs around the building. If you’re a crafty, DIY person, call your shelter and see if there are any projects that could use your assistance. Cat trees and toys are easier to make than you might imagine, so call and see how you can use your skillset and be of service. Craft night with your children or some friends could take on new meaning if you’re working together to make a positive change in your community.

4. Start at home

Help cut down on the number of lost and unwanted pets at shelters by outfitting your pets with proper ID. Please spay and neuter your pets, and help stop the growing number of abandoned pets. Keep your cats indoors, and always keep dogs on comfortable, safe leashes when not on your property. Pets are lost every day because of neglect, so be a good pet parent and look out for your furry kids at all times. They rely on you, so don’t let them down by being careless.

Also See: 7 Thoughtful Gestures for Someone Who Lost a Pet

5. Be a pet taxi

Shelters often need help shuttling critters to and from vet appointments or between foster and long term homes. If you have a car, volunteer a bit of your time and help animals get the medical care they require. Or, better yet, transport them to their new home. Helping out like this frees up time that shelter employees may need to spend working at the facility. Sometimes, it’s not money or hard goods that organizations need most.

6. Donate adoption fees and sponsor a pet

Perhaps your lifestyle or living arrangements don’t allow you to take home a pet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rescue an animal. Last week, I donated the adoption fee for a 6 year old cat named Putty at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. A few days later, Putty met her new family and subsequently went home with them! Most shelters list their fees online, so find out what your local facility’s fees are and donate the adoption money for a specific animal. The shelter will put up a placard letting everyone know that this pet’s adoption fees have been paid. Sponsoring a pet like this increases the likelihood of older pets being adopted.

7. Hang out at a shelter

Rescue facilities are often short-staffed and need help to ensure animals are exercised and socialized. Whether you’re a cat or dog person (or love both equally), volunteer to stop by and hang out with some lonely pets at least once a week. Petting and chatting with neglected or abandoned animals is good for them and great for you. Your mood will lift after cheering up these caged, bored pets while helping to socialize them so they’ll be ready to live with humans once they’re adopted. This is an excellent way to be of help if your budget doesn’t permit you to buy supplies right now. Your time, presence and compassion are valuable assets that any shelter would be thrilled to accept.