By: Dylan Fredette
In early 2021, The Washington Post reported that the COVID- pandemic has created a shortage of shelter pets. However, animal shelters everywhere are still operational. Most importantly, they still need our help. With communities slowly beginning to reopen, and the realities of pet ownership setting in for folks who impulsively adopted during the lockdown, we’re calling on animal lovers everywhere to learn more about how to help animal shelters in their communities!
Animal shelters incur huge costs for nursing sick and neglected pets back to health. They often accept animals that require extensive veterinary care. That means a large veterinary bill!
Increasingly, prospective owners are meeting their new adoptees on Zoom calls and other online platforms. This ensures that social distancing guidelines are being met while they are introduced to their new family member.
There are many ways to help besides donating money and adopting a pet. Therefore, here are 5 ways of how to support animal shelters.
Ask any humane society professional how to help animal shelters, and they’ll suggest fostering! Many employees have become full-time remote employees since the beginning of the pandemic. With this extra time at home, maybe now is the time to consider being a foster pet parent! Foster pets often require additional, time-intensive love and care. Unfortunately, this cannot always be accommodated by a busy shelter. That’s where you come in!
These pets might need bottle feeding, medications, wound care, or other specialty care that shelter staff can’t adequately supply.
Most shelters employ a skeleton crew of workers and some volunteers. This is because they are non-profit organizations that cannot afford to have a well-paid, full-time staff. As unfortunate as this is, all is not lost, and you can lend a helping hand! Just call your local shelter and ask if they need foster homes. Most shelters will be more than happy that you did!
You may have to undergo a brief survey, interview, questionnaire, or home visit. This is so the shelter management feels comfortable with the level of care that you can provide. Trust us, it will be well worth it.
There is nothing more rewarding than nursing a broken, helpless, sick, or injured animal back to a whole, vibrant, and healthy creature who is ready to take on the world and be part of a new family—nothing.
You will be positively impacting not only that individual animal but also yourself and the community at large. That’s just plain awesome! Consider making society a better place by becoming a foster pet parent today.
Many of us want to know how to help animal shelters but cannot commit to fostering a pet. That’s okay! Call your local animal shelter and ask them what supplies they need! These are usually things like blankets, cleaning supplies, canned cat and dog food, durable and safe pet toys, and things like bowls, leashes, collars, etc. There is always a need for something.
And be creative—buy several different sizes of treats or chews or toys and several different types of foods, That way, you will be reaching and helping more animals! Every shelter pet is an individual with individual needs, so think big.
You can even ask your shelter if they have any special-needs animals with specific medical problems or different breeds that require special diets. Some dogs are allergic to specific ingredients and will need specialty, allergen-free food, so be specific when you are speaking to the shelter staff about how you can help.
Some items are always universally needed–like food, beds, bowls, and such. Be sure to get toys that are durable and can’t be quickly destroyed or ingested. Look instead for hard, sturdy rubber or hard rawhide toys that will take a beating and last for hours or days. Shelter animals have a lot of pent-up energy from being locked in cages all day, every day, so they will really appreciate your putting some thought into some entertainment and enrichment.
Also, some big businesses, like Amazon, for instance, are looking at how to help animal shelters. They’re jumping on the donation bandwagon right now, so take advantage of that. Amazon has announced recently that they will, “temporarily prioritize household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products,” so when you shop on AmazonSmile, select the Humane Society of the United States as the charity you want a portion of your purchase to go to, and then pat yourself on the back for making a positive difference in a shelter animal’s life!
With so many available fundraising platforms, like GoFundMe, Crowdfunding.com, Classy.com, Indiegogo, Fundly, and DonateKindly, starting a fundraiser has never been easier! You can link these pages on social media and reach out to your email contacts to ask for support.
Fundraisers are especially helpful for people with pets that are living in poverty and underserved communities. The pets of the poor need food, supplies, and medical attention just the same as the pets of the wealthy, but sadly, they often don’t get it because of financial constraints, which results in unnecessary suffering and death. Humanesociety.org says that, “Low wage families and people working hourly wage jobs are being hit hard with the loss of income and no time off from work,”. Right now, they need help more than ever! They go on to say, “Currently, and in the coming months, there will be additional financial struggles and barriers for large numbers of people in accessing resources and affordable care and supplies for pets, and therefore a huge demand on these service agencies.”
If you’re researching how to help animal shelters and the larger community, this is a great way to do both! So ask your local animal shelter if they would be averse to you starting a fundraiser to benefit the working poor who are also pet owners. You won’t be sorry you did.
It’s always a good time to donate your free time to walking shelter dogs and providing playtime and enrichment for the cats and other animals in the shelter!
Well-socialized animals get adopted faster and are a lot more likely to stay out of the shelter in the future.
Many pets are surrendered to shelters for behavior problems like aggression, or a pet growing larger than an owner expected. Occasionally, this also occurs due to an unexpected health problem arising. In fact, almost half of cats and dogs are relinquished to shelters because of these problems, according to the ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey.
You can help by donating your time and energy for socialization purposes, or by purchasing expensive medication or treatments that a companion animal needs to survive without nuisance behaviors like urinating or defecating around the house.
Other things you can do depend on your skills and standing in your community. Are you a writer that could perform free grant-writing services to get a local animal shelter more resources? Could you compile a list of resources for struggling community members so that they could access free pet food or medical transportation or services? Could you partner with your local shelter to create a trap/neuter/release program for local strays? Anything you can do is not only appreciated but desperately needed.
Be creative! There is always something that you can do to help! In the United States, 1.5 million shelter dogs and cats are still euthanized every year due to a lack of money and homes, and you can be part of the change for the good. We also strongly recommend you visit our Donations page and fill out our Shelter Nomination Form. Every month, we select 10 shelters from around the country and donate to their cause. With your nomination, your local shelter could be one of them! You’ll be glad you did.
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You’ll be the top dog or cat in the clubhouse!