Under-staffed and severely under-funded, shelters across America desperately need your help! Read on for easy ways to help pets in shelters and rescues, many of which you can provide at no cost.
If you receive Woof Report’s weekly email newsletters, you already know about the regular feature listing one simple and actionable idea for helping pets in shelter and rescue organizations waiting for their forever homes. The idea is….just do one small thing, and it can really make a difference. Hopefully, these easy tips will encourage you to give back to those that give so much to us each day.
In case you’ve missed the tips in the newsletters or (say it isn’t so…) you’re not a Woof subscriber, read on – and please feel free to add to the list in the Comments section below.
Everyday Tips that Help
- Support a local shelter or rescue by attending one of their fundraising events! Search by state and month at BringFido.com and find all kinds of events, nearly all of which welcome dogs and raise needed funds for animal welfare causes. If you support a shelter, consider listing any upcoming events at the site for free, and if there are no events on the horizon, you’ll likely get inspired to plan one one you browse the listings!
- If you’d like to volunteer to help animals, but don’t know where to start or the type of work you’d like to do, head on over to volunteermatch.org. You can search for volunteer opportunities based on your location and the type of work you’d prefer (and even find virtual opportunities). Also, browse the listings for all areas for ideas on how you can help a local shelter you already support, and consider helping to list your shelter’s volunteer needs on the site.
- For yet another option for finding volunteer opportunities to help animals, head on over to sparked.com, a micro-volunteering network. What’s that you ask? It’s an entirely online form of volunteering that allows you to lend your skills whenever and wherever you have time. They focus on volunteering tasks that can be completed in between two minutes and two hours, making it easy for you to find the time to help. Just plug in the cause or causes you’re interested in, and your skills, and you’ll receive matches online and by email if you choose. And if there’s a shelter you support in need of help, consider listing their volunteer needs on the site.
- If you’re a regular Amazon.com shopper, start at Amazon Smile and pick a charity or shelter of your choice and it will earn a percentage of your purchase total. As of today, a percentage of my 76 Amazon orders have benefited The Grey Muzzle Foundation. (That’s a lot of orders – don’t tell my husband that number….haha :))
- Begin your shopping at an online mall that donates a percentage of every purchase to your favorite charity. Visit Goodshop.com, and shop online as usual, and a percent of your purchase price will be donated to the charity of your choice at no cost to you. Average donations are approximately 3% of the sale, but go up to 20% or even more, and you’ll find nearly all of the top online stores are participating.
- Help the dog shelter or rescue organization you support get found so more pets are adopted! Provide Woof Report with the name of the shelter or rescue you support. Use the ‘Contact Us’ link below and include the shelter or rescue name or names, city and state (include the phone number and website if you can) and it will be added to Woof Report’s Adopt-a-Dog Directory. You can also post the shelter or rescue info on Woof Report’s Facebook page anytime or submit it in the Comments section below.
- As you embark upon your spring/summer/fall/winter cleaning routine, keep your local animal shelters in mind. They will gratefully accept your donations of basic, everyday needs. To find out what your community shelters need, give them a call and in the meantime, set aside these often requested items: kennels, carriers, cozy pet beds, bedding and blankets, towels and cleaning supplies such as bleach, sponges, and laundry detergent. And there’s more: baby gates, digital cameras, gently used Kongs, dog toys, dog collars and leashes, and various office supplies.
- Did you know you can help feed shelter pets without spending a cent? Simply add a quick visit to these two sites each day: At Freekibble.com and Freekibblekat.com donate ten pieces of tasty kibble to shelter pets when you answer a daily trivia question at one or both of their sites. Visit TheAnimalRescueSite.com click the purple “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button and site sponsors pick up the tab for food and care for animals at pet shelters supported by the Petfinder Foundation and other worthy pet causes.
- Read the informative articles at the links below to learn the common myths about adopting pets from shelters. These misconceptions stop many people from considering adoption when shelters are overflowing with wonderful pets that are in need of loving homes. Share these links to encourage people to adopt their next pet!
Even the Smallest Hand Makes a Difference!
- Helping pets in need doesn’t always mean adopting a dog or even donating money (although these are always good too). Fostering a dog is a wonderful way to support overcrowded shelters and rescue organizations and get a pup ready for finding his forever home. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to help dogs in need without taking on the commitment of a lifelong pet adoption or to see if another dog is just what you need. Learn more about fostering in Woof Report’s past tip, Give a Dog a Second Chance by Fostering.
- Just as you can use Facebook and Twitter to help homeless pets find loving families by sharing a link to an adoptable pet’s profile page, you can also help shelters obtain items they need to provide the best care for their animals. Many people don’t realize how easy it is to support shelters by donating items they no longer need, such as blankets, towels and even newspapers. Simply go to a shelter or rescue’s website and find the ‘wish list’ of items they need, and post that link to your Facebook status update or a Twitter post, and add a short note. If the shelter you support does not have a list, send them a suggestion to add one to their site and a compile a list to help them get started.
- Use Facebook and Twitter to help homeless pets find loving homes. Here’s how easy it is: Visit Petfinder.com or AdoptAPet.com and find a pet of your choice currently available for adoption. Copy and paste the url from the pet’s profile page into a Facebook status update or a Twitter post, and add a short note about the pet. You’re finished and it’s there for all to see. Post a new pet each week and just imagine if your efforts helped to find a pet a new home or encouraged someone to adopt!
- Put your daily web searches to work for pets with GoodSearch.com, a search engine that donates around a penny per search to the cause of your choice. Just pick a charity or add your own to their database of thousands and search away as you normally would – those pennies really add up!
- Tell your favorite shelter or rescue about the Through a Dog’s Ear Shelter Program, which offers a free 2-CD set of clinically tested classical piano music to animal shelters and dog rescues. Research has demonstrated that the psychoacoustically designed classical piano arrangements on the Through a Dog’s Ear CDs induced calmness in 70 percent of dogs in shelters or kennels and 85 percent of dogs in households. To qualify, the shelter or rescue must be a non-profit facility that temporarily houses five or more dogs for adoption or placement that has a music system of moderate quality or better.
- Clean out your linen closet this weekend. Do you need all of those extra towels? And how about those blankets and comforters that you no longer use? Probably not. Make space in your linen closet and keep pets in shelters warm and cozy this winter. Donate your gently used goods to your local shelter or rescue and they’ll be greatly appreciated.
Find more ways to help shelter and rescue pets and support animal welfare causes in Woof Report’s Lend a Paw Tip Archives.
If you need more ideas how you can help pets in shelters and rescues….for instance, 100 ideas, read this quick list of 100 low cost or free ways to help shelter and rescue dogs, and see how easy it is!
Tracy, the sweetie pictured above, is a Spitz/Collie mix available for adoption in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more about her at petfinder.
Originally published January 2011, reviewed and updated June 2017.