November 1 – 7 is National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week, when we give a collective “shout out” to all the dedicated shelter and rescue workers who care for the 6-8 million homeless animals who pass through their facilities each year. This is a hard job, and, for the most part, a thankless one. The reward for most comes from the belief that they are making a difference in the lives of homeless animals. They are constantly underfunded, short-staffed and in need of money and supplies, so this week we are highlighting 10 things you can do to help your local shelter or rescue.
1. Start at Home
Do you have pets? Are they spayed/neutered? If not, get them fixed. Homeless dogs and cats beget more homeless dogs and cats. Do your part to mitigate this issue by fixing your own furry family.
2. Keep a Lifeline
Are your pets microchipped? If they get out of your yard and end up at a shelter, there is a much greater chance they will get back to you if they are wearing current ID and are registered in a microchip registry such as https://microchipregistry.foundanimals.org/ (it’s free). Make it easy for shelter workers to achieve a happy reunion – microchip your pet and keep ID on him at all times.
3. Back to Basics
Shelters and rescues can always use food, treats, blankets and towels. Buy some extra food or treats next time you are shopping for your own pet and drop it off at a rescue. Clean out your linen closet and donate the old items to your local shelter. They won’t care if your sheets are worn or your towels have holes – the animals will be happy to have extra insulation to snuggle down in as the weather turns cold.
4. Use Your Skills
Are you a photography maven or a legal eagle? Can you type up a whirlwind or do sums in your head? Are you a wizard at social media or just plain handy? Rescues always need volunteers who have expertise in these areas. Reach out to your local rescues and find out which ones can put your particular skills to work.
5. Big Events
Hosting a pet at your home for a temporary stay can mean the difference between life and death for that pet, or another one awaiting rescue at the shelter. Many times, rescues will provide or subsidize items you will need such as food and veterinary care.
7. Make a Wish List
Contact your local shelters/rescues and ask them exactly what they need. Then, set up an Amazon Wish List for them and share it with your contacts. This is a great way to make a big difference in small dollar increments, which people are more likely to donate.
8. Get “Likes”
Champion adoptable pets on your Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter feed. Sometimes the only thing standing between a homeless pet and a forever home is a view by the right person.
9. Take a Hike (or a Walk)
Shelters can always use volunteer dog walkers, and many rescues have days set aside for volunteers to take a pack walk or hike together. Some rescues even allow you to “borrow” a dog for a day of exercise. Take advantage of these programs and help a homeless dog while you get fit and make new friends at the same time.
10. Provide Transportation
Many rescues need volunteers to transport their animals from place to place. Offer your services transporting a pet from the shelter, or to and from vet appointments.