Most animal shelters rely on volunteers to keep things running smoothly. They need people to do anything from helping at the front desk to training the animals and everything in between. If you contact your local animal shelter, you’ll likely find that it’s helpful for them.
Many people believe that they don’t have time to help their local animal shelter, but it can actually be super simple. Some of the things you can do to help can be done from your home or during your commute.
Even if you aren’t confident with animals but still care enough to want to help, there are jobs for you. They don’t all have to be hands-on. But there are plenty of jobs for those who do want to have direct contact with the animals.
Since you now know that anyone can help, you may be wondering exactly how you can help. While you know of the basic ways to help your local animal shelter, there are also many other kind things you can do.
Ways You Can Help Your Local Animal Shelter
1. Walk the shelter dogs
Dogs need exercise, but it can be time-consuming when so many dogs need walked. This is something that even beginners can do, and it can be beneficial for more than just the dog. Walking can be therapeutic for both the dog and yourself, and you can count it as your exercise for the day.
2. Feed the animals
Another task that can be time-consuming, shelters are always looking for people to fill the bowls with food and water. This simple job can be an immense help, and it’ll give you a chance to bond with the animals.
3. Brush or groom the animals
Help keep the animals looking their best so that they are ready when the perfect family comes in to adopt a new pet. Aside from just making them look nice, a groomed animal will feel better and be more comfortable.
4. Clean the kennels
By keeping the kennels clean, illness and disease will not spread as easily throughout the shelter. It also gives the animal a safe, clean space to try and relax in.
5. Answer their phones
If you don’t want to be so hands-on with the animals, offer to answer the phones at the front desk. Many people call with simple questions that volunteers can easily answer. There may also be paperwork to file or documents to send.
6. Organize events
Adoption events are often held at local businesses, and select animals are brought in for families to come and visit. Helping to organize these events can be helpful to the staff as there can never be too many hands. Organizing fundraising events is a kind way to help, as well.
7. Use your professional skills
If you can take decent photos, sew, create graphics, or website content, you can help! The same goes for veterinarians who can spay or neuter a pet or give it vaccinations, or a dog trainer who can help make a pet more adoptable. Attorneys can help with any legal aspects, and any other professional service could be used in some way.
8. Donate supplies
These donated supplies don’t always have to be brand new. You can bring in gently used pet beds, collars, leashes, towels, or sheets.
Of course, new supplies are welcome, as well. Pet food, cleaning supplies, and all the things mentioned before (pet beds, collars, etc.) are in high demand all the time at shelters.
Other things you can donate include:
- paper towels
- laundry detergent
- grooming supplies
- kitty litter
- puppy pads
- office supplies, including printer paper, pens, markers, file folders, etc.
Your local shelter may have a wish-list posted online or at the shelter if you wanted to check for specific requests.
9. Make sure your animals are neutered or spayed
By ensuring your pets are taken care of in this way, you are helping to prevent stray animals in your neighborhood from reproducing. Many shelters are full of animals that they picked up as strays. The more strays that are reproducing, the more strays there will become.
Other things you can do for your pets that could help the shelter are making sure they are micro-chipped, kept in a fenced-in yard, and that they are up to date on all of their shots.
10. Adopt a pet
The best way to help your local shelter is to free up space in the shelter permanently. By adopting a pet, you are giving a pet a loving home and making room for the shelter to take others in off the streets.
11. Donate money
You don’t have to take this cash straight out of your pocket. Instead, think of ways to raise funds. Collect soda cans to recycle for money (not all states have this deposit, however), bake cookies and sell them to earn money or tell your friends and family that you are collecting money to donate to the local animal shelter.
12. Spread the word on your social media
Advocating for the shelter can be as simple as sharing their content on your social media page. It also involves talking to others about what the shelter is doing to help the animals. You could also pass out flyers, photos, or business cards.
13. Play with the animals
The animals in a shelter get very little connection with people other than those who feed it each day, despite the solid efforts of the staff. There are sometimes so many animals that they don’t get the play that animals desperately need. By volunteering to play with an animal, you are freeing up time for another animal while also helping to get that animal ready for adoption.
14. Read to the animals
Animals in a shelter are frequently stressed out. Reading to them in a calm voice can lessen their stress or anxiety. This can make them more ready for adoption when the right family comes in.
If you have children, take them with you. Kids will love the chance to help the animals, and the child will be benefiting, as well.
15. Help with pet training
Animals are more likely to be adopted when they are already trained. It can take some time, so it’s hard to get all of the animals ready.
16. Cuddle with the cats
Being in a shelter is stressful for animals, no matter how well they are taken care of. Studies show that cats who receive cuddles are happier, healthier, and adopted more quickly than those who aren’t. This is because the cuddling lessens stress and makes them more social.
17. Provide transportation
Sometimes pets are adopted by a family who lives far away from the shelter. When this happens, the shelter relies on volunteers to transport the pet to their new home. To make the trip easier on volunteers, the new family will sometimes meet up halfway to get their new pet.
18. Foster an animal
If you don’t want a new pet in your home permanently but don’t mind one temporarily, this is super helpful to shelters to avoid over-crowding. It can open up a spot for an animal who has nowhere else to go, as well.
Fostering a shelter animal can last only a couple of days, or it could go for up to a month or two. It’s important to let the shelter know if you have a time restriction, but any amount of time is appreciated. Sometimes the shelter will even provide food, medications, and any other necessary supplies for the animal.
19. Let the staff or other volunteers know you appreciate their efforts
Bake cookies or have lunch delivered to the shelter. With as busy as they get and as much as they dedicate to helping the animals, they deserve a reminder that they are appreciated.
20. Ask what they need
If you don’t know what to offer, ask what they need. Maybe they need some handiwork done, and you’re good with a hammer and nails. They may need something as simple as someone to sweep the lobby.
You truly never know what is needed, and the best way to help is to ask what you can do.
There are many ways you can help your local animal shelter. Whether you love to be hands-on with animals or you like to help in other ways, there are things that you can do to help.
While many people think about the basic ways to help, many other tasks would be immensely helpful to those who work at the shelter. Remember, if you still don’t know what to do to help, you could always ask how you can assist their efforts.
In the end, you’ll probably be surprised to feel that you benefit from this as much as the animals do! Food for the soul…
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