It’s Christmas this week, and then we’ll be heading into a New Year! For many, giving back this time of year is a part of holiday tradition. If you’re thinking about ways you can help homeless animals and pets in need, even the smallest gift or act can make a huge difference. Here are a few ways you can help:
- Donate time to a shelter or rescue for a day. Animals in shelters and rescues are dependent on the care and kindness of others to ensure their health, survival, safety, and most of all the hope to find a forever family. Most shelters offer day programs where volunteers can donate time for the day. You’ll be helping to feed, clean and care for cats, dogs and other animals, providing them the necessary attention and love they need. Rescues can also need help transporting animals to and from veterinarian appointments, foster homes and rescue. Both shelters and rescues often need people to help with socialization of the animals in their care — play time, belly rubs, and cuddling sounds like a great way to give back to us!
- Donate items to a shelter or rescue. Shelters and rescues operate on contributions from others, and this includes the donation of food, litter, toys, bedding, and other needs for the animals in their care. Contact the shelter or rescue to see what they may need, or pick up dog, cat and other pet food items, bedding, toys, etc. to donate. These items are so important to the animals in their care, and often all that they own that is “theirs.” It’s usually recommended not to give rawhide or other chew bones due to the potential for causing issues. But toys such as balls, rubber chews and other items can be more than welcome. Call the organization in advance to be sure.
- Rescue a homeless or stray animal you see. We often assume that the stray cat or dog in our community “wants” to be “free.” In reality, living on the streets is nothing like living in “nature” or the “wild” for domestic animals of any kind. Not only can they be subjected to abuse, but also harmed or injured, and food and water are often very scarce if at all accessible regularly. Additionally, parasites such as fleas, ticks, ear mites and intestinal worms are usually an issue. Diseases can be contracted, too. If all of this weren’t dangerous enough, don’t forget the extreme temperatures, weather and other elements of nature that they often have to endure. Always contact a no-kill rescue organization or no-kill shelter to come get the animal immediately when you see it. Feeding it in the interim can help, particularly as it will continue to show up or stay near a consistent food source, making it easier for rescuers. If you have any stray animals in your area this holiday, you can help them this way.
- Share information about dogs, cats and other animals in need. The social internet has helped animal causes in so many ways, and a big area is in raising awareness. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest, share the videos and photos, stories and other details about homeless animals or animals in need of rescue that you see. It might seem like it isn’t effective, but the more people know about an animal in need, the more people can help it. Expanding that virally across the internet helps!
- Donate money. No-kill shelters and rescues are in constant need of money, as are most causes. Your donation of even a dollar or two can help in more ways than you know, as every little bit adds up and counts. You can also consider donations to animal rights advocacy groups that are in line with your beliefs about animal rights, or other organizations helping pets in need.
With all these great ways to help animals this holiday season, you should be set to give back this holiday season! You can find local rescues and shelters via search engines online, or stop by those you may know of in your community.