Donate Food – Most shelters are always in need of pet food, but places like Sophie's Circle actively run pet food drives to help animals stay out of the shelter. By providing food to needy families and seniors who cannot provide food for their pets, we keep animals safe at home with the families who love them. This kind of donation is affordable, often tax deductible and allows you to pitch in whenever you have enough money for a space bag of dog or cat food. Most shelters actively accept pet food donations, but you can call in to ask if they need them before making the purchase.
Volunteer Your Time – Many shelters and rescues operate on a volunteer or semi-volunteer basis, which means that most people working there are doing so for free. If you have extra time, one of the best things you could offer could be your time. This is especially important if you have skills like social media, photography, dog grooming, animal care, or are just good at cleaning. There are hundreds of tasks surrounding animal rescue including feeding, caring for, cleaning up after and grooming animals, but also handling social media, promoting and marketing animals to ensure that they are adopted, handling questions, paperwork and even taxes. If you think you can help, call your local shelter or rescue and ask.
Donate – Whether you have money, old blankets and clothes, dog food, or anything else, your local shelter or rescue may be able to use it. While a cash donation is the most versatile donation you can make, you don't have to have money to contribute. In most cases, old blankets are perfect for keeping dogs and cats warm in shelters, old dog crates and leashes can be used for transportation, etc.. Some shelters maintain a list of items they accept as donations, but you can also call in or contact their Facebook page to ask.
Ask What They Need – Some shelters will need specific items and you can help a great deal by calling in to ask. For example, if a shelter has recently rescued puppies, they might need formula for the pups, if it's cold, they might need blankets and if they're running low on food, they might literally need a food donation. You can always ask how you can help to make the most of every donation.
Educate Others – If you can adopt, it's always better to adopt and get an animal out of the shelter.
However, you can also work to educate friends and family, get them to adopt when necessary and share animals on shelter pages to help them find homes. By actively participating on shelter pages, you can greatly improve their reach and make sure that more people see every animal on the page. You can also help by ensuring that friends and family are educated on the difficulties of raising animals, that they know the responsibility of getting a pet and ensuring that no one you know blindly jumps into getting a pet, which will then end up in the shelter.
If you have more time and resources than most, you can consider volunteering to foster animals. This can be a great way to offer a lot of help to local rescues, who often need temporary homes for animals to socialize them and to keep them out of crates and kennels. However, most shelters will want to establish a relationship with you and this will include considerable screening to ensure that you can care for special needs animals on a regular basis.
If you want to help, there are dozens of ways to do so and these 5 are just a place to start. Thank you for caring.