Sunday, November 24, 2013

How You Can Help Shelter Animals This Holiday Season

Tis the season of giving!  Many people do the majority of their charitable giving during the holidays.  In addition to helping people, animal shelters and other animal welfare organizations are also in great need of both money and donation items.  They are hopeful that animal lovers like us will incorporate their organizations into our charitable giving budget.  Here are some things you can do to help animals this holiday season:

 Organize a fund raiser, donation drive or volunteer event at work to benefit a local animal shelter or rescue organization.  Collect money, much needed items such as food, blankets or towels, or organize a volunteer event at the shelter.   Volunteers can get the dogs out of their kennels to walk and play with them.  This helps the dogs get exercise and stay well socialized, which helps them remain healthy and adoptable.  Ask the shelter for their Wish List of donation items most needed.  Check with your boss or Human Resources department beforehand to ensure you follow whatever guidelines or policies they have for organizing charitable giving and volunteer events in the workplace.   You may even be able to get your employer to agree to match all or a portion of money you collect!   

Round up the kids to organize a shelter or rescue donation drive or special project through their school, girl or boy scout troup, or religious organization.  We have had kids collect food, blankets, towels, and other much needed items for the shelter.  We once had a group of Eagle scouts build whelping boxes for expectant shelter dog mothers at the shelter.    Get a Wish List of items they need most from the shelter.  Ask if there are any simple projects the kids can do for them.  You may even be able to get a shelter employee to come and speak to the class or group about how to treat animals, what an animal shelter does and how it works, etc.  Just ask!  Activities like this help educate kids and teach them responsibility and empathy.

Organize an event to raise funds such as a doggie fashion show, lunch and silent auction, outdoor event such as a walk, run, golf or other sports outing.  Anything that gets people together for a cause they want to support!  You may be able to request that your donation be earmarked for a specific dedication in honor or in memory of a dog or cat lover.   Partner with a local pet store or other business to gain sponsorship.

Foster a dog or cat in your home.  Some shelters host Home for the Holidays events where families offer to host an animal in their home during the holidays.   If you can do it, becoming a permanent foster would be a wonderful gift to a shelter or rescue.  They are always in need of fosters.  I foster animals in my home, and I know that it saves lives.

Offer to take photos of adoptable animals for a shelter.  Shelters usually have a high intake rate, and they are not always able to get a good photo of every animal that comes in.  If you’re good with a camera and with animals, ask a local shelter if they need some help.  Provide a few props such as a holiday blanket, toy, or santa hat and take some great shots for the shelter to post online.  Bring along a friend who can help.  If the dog or cat doesn’t have a name, give them one!  This helps people identify with the dog – he isn’t just a number. 
 
Use your social media network to help get the word out about animals that are available for adoption.  Work with a shelter or rescue organization to post photos of their adoptable dogs or cats with compelling details about the animal and links to their site.   “Goldielocks is a lovable Golden Retriever mix.  She loves walks and playing fetch!”   Then Share it and ask all your friends to do the same.

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