The season of giving is right around the corner. Have you thought about how you can help homeless animals who live at your local shelter? It doesn’t take much to brighten their day. You’ll see the immediate effects of your gifts, and you can even get your kids involved to start a new holiday tradition.
The easiest way to support your local shelter: follow them on Twitter or Instagram, or Like their Facebook page. Many shelters have realized that social media is a powerful way to find homes, so they regularly post photos of their available pets.
Share those photos with your friends. You never know when someone on your friends list is looking for a new four-legged family member.
Shelters can always use donations of food, toys, beds, treats and other supplies. You don’t have to have a huge shopping budget to pick up a few extra items when you’re picking up supplies for your own pets.
Clip coupons from pet product manufacturers so you can buy a little extra. Coupons are typically not for high quality items, but most pets waiting in shelters won’t mind eating cheap food while waiting for their forever homes.
You can also check clearance sections and after-holiday sales bins. Shelter pets don’t mind getting those 75% off Halloween toys in November.
An even more cost-effective way to help shelter pets: make your own gifts.
Use this polar fleece tug toy tutorial to make your own dog toys for less than a dollar each.
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can make these eye-catching Adopt Me Vests for pets to wear at adoption events.
Volunteering is a no-cost way to provide a very valuable gift for your shelter. You can clean cages, play with cats, walk dogs or help with training. You can also use your talents to help get more pets adopted.
If you’re a photographer, offer to take pictures of adoptable pets. It can be difficult for shelter workers to capture each animal’s personality and adorable physical features. Black cats and dogs are especially difficult to properly photograph in a way that captures an adopter’s attention.
Your shelter may have unique needs for items you may not have thought of. Some are unable to keep bets in pets’ cages, but appreciate donations of old, clean towels. Others need supplies for small animals such as rabbits, rats and birds. The shelter website might have a wish list published. Or, you can just call or visit and ask.
If your family members give you or your kids lots of thoughtful, yet needless gifts each holiday season, ask them for a gift you’d really love. Tell family members to donate cash or items to your local shelter in lieu of gifts you don’t need.
Adoption fees may not always cover spay/neuter surgery, food, care and other costs of keeping pets in the shelter. Cash donations are always appreciated, and may even be tax deductible.
Many shelters have opened reading programs, encouraging the public to sit and read out loud to resident cats and dogs. This is a great activity for kids to improve their reading skills. The animals find the company soothing, even if they can’t understand the story. Undersocialized shelter pets can learn to be calmer around visitors, increasing their chances of getting adopted.
While shelters appreciate donations of treats and toys, many people forget to treat the hard-working volunteers and employees who take loving care of homeless pets.
Bring in a tray of brownies, cookies or other goodies for shelter workers to enjoy. If you hate to bake, store-bought is perfectly fine. Coffee and donuts in the morning are also sure to make shelter workers smile.
Of course, the nicest thing you can do for a shelter animal is bring them into your family.
You can offer to temporarily foster an animal if you’re not sure if you’re ready for another pet. You can always become another happy “foster failure” story. If you and your family fall in love with your foster, you can always keep them.
Shelter pets do not make good holiday gifts because they require a lot of work and commitment. It’s not fair to spring that responsibility on someone you love. However, if the “gift” will be for your child, and you’ll be taking care of the animal regardless, it’s not such a bad idea. Even so, kids like to be part of the adoption process, and will love to help pick out the new pet.
Your shelter can help you find the perfect match for your family. Many perform temperament tests to see which animals get along with other pets and kids.
Inspire others by sharing how you help your shelter – tag @TetherTug on Instagram and Twitter, or post a photo to our Facebook page timeline. We’d love to see how you’re spreading holiday cheer to animals in need!
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