Monday, November 28, 2016

How You Can Help Homeless Animals Over The Holidays

The holidays are around the corner!  You may think not much goes on at animal shelters and rescues because of the holidays.  Not true!  Animal shelters and rescue organizations across the country may need your help this time of year more than ever.  It's the season for giving, and while monetary donations are always needed and always welcome there are other ways to help animals this season as well.  


If you're short on cash or would like to do more than write a check, here are some other things you can do to help homeless animals

DONATE MUCH NEEDED ITEMS
Shelters and rescues are always in need of food and other supplies.  Contact a local shelter or rescue and ask what's on their current donation "Wish List".   

Food is always a good donation, especially canned food.  Young puppies and kittens usually need canned food and cans are not always as available to the shelter as dry food.  In addition, pets that are ill and in Isolation are often unable to eat dry kibble.  Dogs with kennel cough are just one example of that. 

Blankets and towels are another great item to donate.  Those ratty blankets and towels sitting in the back of the linen closet?  Donate them to an animal shelter!  Winter is nearly here and the nights can be cold, any type and size blanket is welcome.  Kennel floors are often made of concrete and can be very cold.  The little ones are especially prone to the cold.  Give them a blanket to cuddle up in, it will make they more comfortable and may help prevent them from getting sick.  

Towels are also much needed, they are used not only to help stay warm but shelters go through a ton of towels following spay/neuter and other surgeries.  Blankets and towels can get worn out quickly so there's always a need.

If you don't have many blankets or towels to donate yourself, check with friends, family, neighbors, or even your coworkers.  Ask them to gather blankets and towels for you to bring to a local animal shelter or rescue.  Most people are happy to help out.  It helps them get rid of old stuff easily with your help, and they can feel good about helping homeless animals.  Kids especially love being involved in this type of activity, it's a good learning experience for them as well.  It helps foster empathy, kindness, and respect for animals and shows them how easy it can be to give back and be part of the community.


Icy and I dropped off a bag of blankets and towels for BIDEAWEE, the shelter we do our therapy dog work through.
I'll share a true story with you.  My good friend Gene helped me out with this a couple of years ago.  He went into work and asked his coworkers if they had old blankets or towels they no longer wanted.  Days later I went to his house and picked up bags full of blankets, towels, and soft pillows!  The county animal shelter was thrilled to have these items.  It happened to occur just before a cold front was coming in.  We literally dropped off these much needed items hours before the temperature plumetted that night!  It was so heartwarming to place those blankets inside the kennels.  Immediately, the dogs all hopped onto their blankets and snuggled right into them!  It was a beautiful sight.

Another fun idea is to organize a small donation party among your friends, family, or coworkers (Be sure to ASK the Boss if it's ok first!).   One of our friends hosts parties at her home a couple times a year.   Instead of bringing something for the hostess, she asks each guest to bring a bag or can of food or other item to donate to the local animal shelter or animal rescue.  Everyone has fun at the party and the next day she loads up the donation items and brings them to the shelter!  

Alternatively, you can ask each person to bring a small monetary donation.  Perhaps each person brings $5.  You can then either pool the money and give the donation directly to an organization that helps homeless animals, or you can shop for items on their WISH LIST.  If you and your guests are comfortable with the idea, this makes it easy for everyone.  Except you of course, because you need to do the shopping!  Personally I love to shop for items on the shelter's wish list, it's so much fun, even more fun than shoe shopping!

Another simple way to give is to Sponsor a shelter pet's adoption, where you pay all or part of the pet's adoption fee.  This can help promote adoption by reducing the overall costs involved when you first add a pet to the family.  It just might help tip the scales in favor of someone adopting a pet that day!


You could even pay for medical services the shelter can't afford.  This is my foster, sweet Dusty, continually passed over simply because he had cherry eye.  I sprung for his surgery and within 48 hours he got adopted! 
If you want to go BIG, organize a larger scale event to raise funds such as a doggie fashion show,  a holiday luncheon at a club or restaurant, or an outdoor event such as a walk or run.  Anything that can get people together to help homeless pets!  You may be able to partner with a local pet store or other business to gain sponsorship.

DONATE YOUR TIME
Instead of donating money or items, you can also give your time.  There are lots of ways to give of yourself while helping animals in need.

You can organize a volunteer event at the shelter.  There are SO many things a shelter needs help with.  Everything from walking or playing with dogs and kitties to helping sort donation items, decorating the place for the holidays, or tidying up play yards.   Many shelters welcome groups from companies, social groups, religious organizations, even kids from groups like Eagle Scouts or Girl Scouts.  At the Phoenix shelter, we once had a fabulous Eagle Scout group construct Welping Boxes for expectant dog mothers and their soon to be born puppies!  

Volunteers can get dogs or cats out of their cages to walk and play with them.  This helps dogs get fresh air and exercise and stay well socialized as well as healthy.  It also burns energy so they're not bouncing off the walls when adopters walk through.   Playing also helps cats stay healthy and socialized.  These things contribute to the dogs and cats being more appealing to potential adopters.  


You can foster a dog or cat in your home.  Some shelters have Day Foster programs where you can get a dog out of the shelter just for the day.  It may not seem like a lot, you may even think it's mean to take a dog out for a day and bring him back to the shelter.  But believe me it's a much needed break that helps the dog more than you might think.

Some shelters offer Home for the Holidays events where families offer to host an animal in their home through the holidays.   This is a fun option if you have the time and don't plan on having a house full of people over 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 first hand that Fostering Saves Lives!

Offer to take photos of adoptable animals for a shelter.  Shelter staff are usually super busy with the tasks of taking in new animals and caring for the ones that are already there.  They are not always able to spend time getting a good intake photo of every animal that comes in.  Ask a local shelter if they need some help photographing their adoptable pets.  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 provide assistance.  If the dog or cat doesn’t have a name, make one up!  A name can forge an emotional feeling and place a name to a face.  People can identify more with the dog or cat when he's not just a number. 

Get on social media and help spread the word 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.  This may be a bit of work keeping up with each pet, but it's so helpful.   Cooper is a lovable Golden Retriever mix.  She loves walks and playing fetch!”   Then Share, share, share your post on social media and ask your family and friends to do the same.

Do you have other ideas on how we can help shelters and rescues?  Please leave us a comment and Share your ideas!
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28 comments:

  1. These are all wonderful ideas. I saw those flannel blankets on sale at Walmart for $2.50. I am going to buy some of those and donate them along with some toys this year.

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    1. Thanks, I'm glad you like these ideas. Wow, $2.50 for flannel blankets?? That's awesome, I'm going to get over there myself and pick up a bunch of them for the shelter, thanks for letting me know about that!

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  2. Those are some great ways to make a difference. Thanks for sharing and spreading the word. <3

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    1. Thanks Tonya, it really does help shelters. There's always so much need especially in municipal shelters.

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  3. Those are some great ideas you've shared! There are always so many ways to help shelters out - even if you can't spend money or give a lot of time!

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    1. Thanks Nichole! I'm so glad you like these ideas. You're right, there are so many ways to help animals even if you don't have money to give.

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  4. Fostering is a win win for everyone. If you can't keep a pet permanently offering one a home for short periods is a lovely idea.

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    1. Oh absolutely! Fostering definitely saves lives and makes room in the shelter for another animals.

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  5. Great suggestions for how we can help shelters and animals.

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  6. Great ideas and I only wish I could do more :( Thanks for this great post

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    1. Thanks! I always wish I could do more to help those sweet homeless furbabies.

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  7. Such good info, even a little bit goes such a long way for shelter dogs.

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    1. Thanks Paul! True, a little bit goes a long way for shelter pets, there's always so much need.

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  8. We've donated dry and canned food to two different rescues recently. I'll have to go through his toys and clothes and see if there's some more stuff to donate.

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    1. Yay for you! That's so great of you. It's a good idea to go through their things regularly to see what can be donated.

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  9. I really love your idea to volunteer to take photos! Pictures really make the difference in finding animals homes

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    1. OMG, the photos are SO important! You wouldn't believe how many shelters, especially the larger ones don't have the time or resources to take a good photo. A lousy intake photo doesn't get any action online. A great photo can make all the difference!

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  10. These are all wonderful ideas! My mom's 16 year old cat passed away and in a while, my mom will be donating some of the cat items to the shelter or a local family in need. I sometimes bring cat litter to our local food pantry as I know that it is something that people really need but may not be able to afford.

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    1. Oh, I'm sorry about your Mom's cat. That's so nice of her to donate her precious kitty's things to help another pet. What a great idea to donate kitty litter to the food pantry, you're so right it can often be a cost families in need can't afford. Donating pet Food and supplies can mean the difference between a family in need being able to keep their pet or not.

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  11. Such great tips! I love the story about the dogs immediately curling up on their donated blankets! I also love the idea of a donation party!

    Fostering is so important, too - both at the holidays and year long. Our animal care and control is making a big push to get animals out of the cages into foster homes this holiday season.

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    1. Thanks Kristen! Oh you should have seen the Pitbull puppy that was literally sitting on a washcloth when we arrived!! I gave that puppy the Biggest softest blanket we had and he immediately jumped right on it and started snuggling down. I have the photos of it, I was heartbroken when I saw him on that washcloth. The shelter was so full and it was all they had.

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  12. This is such a fabulous idea , you never know which animal that you end up fostering may just forever become yours if not the animal gets a little break from the shelter

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    1. So true! I love the "accidental adoption", LOL! It it so helpful, the dog feels like a pet again and feels loved which can make all the difference when potential adopters come through.

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  13. What a great post for holidays! <3 These are such great tips for helping homeless dogs! Thank you for dropping of towels and blankets. It's so sad to think about dogs at shelters when it gets cold. I hope your donated blankets will keep them warm this winter. :)

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    1. It's so easy to get caught up in our own holiday stuff but there are many opportunities to help homeless pets - and people too of course! I'm sure those dogs will enjoy our blankets.

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  14. Great tips! Our local shelter appreciates gifts of money, items, and time.

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    1. Thanks Tina! All those things are so helpful to animal shelters and rescue groups.

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