When we first saw Gunther at the shelter, he looked so sad and scared….
There are so, many homeless pets in the world. It can be daunting just to think of the sheer number of dogs in need. There are ways to help, though. If we all pitch in, we can give warm, loving homes to each of them. Whether you’re ready to adopt or just have some extra time on your hands, there are many ways to help homeless pets.
Adopting a dog may be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. When you adopt a dog, they understand that you are saving them. They remember their old, hard life and appreciate your love and companionship so much more for it. Although some rescues may be tricky in the beginning, it will be worth it in the end. Adopted dogs are full of love and loyalty and will brighten every aspect of your life.
Even if you are looking for a specific breed or age, check with local shelters. Homeless dogs come in all breeds, shapes, sizes, and ages, which should be all the more reason to adopt.
If you aren’t ready for the commitment of adopting a dog, you can still offer them care in their time of need. Fostering is a wonderful way to help shelters and rescues—it helps them to accommodate more dogs, provides dogs with one-on-one care to make sure their needs are met, and it gives homeless dogs comfort and much-needed human contact.
3. Volunteer Your Time
Even if all you have is a bit of extra time on your hands, it can make a big difference in helping homeless pets. Most shelters and rescues happily accept volunteers. Even if you just take a dog for a walk or give them a belly rub at the shelter, it can make a huge difference in their quality of life.
If you have a special set of skills, you can use that to help, as well. Are you a wiz with a camera? Offer to take photos of homeless pets to post online. This could drastically improve their chances of adoption. If you’re a natural at building websites, offer to optimize or update the shelter’s website. These may seem like small tasks, but they free up the shelter’s time and resources to dedicate more to the animals themselves.
If you’re visiting the local shelter to volunteer your time, invite friends or family along as well. Not only will you have more fun walking dogs and petting dogs together, but the shelter will appreciate the extra help, too. It’s a great way to get friends and family involved and to introduce them to some of the sweet dogs looking for a home.
4. Donate Gently Used Items
Do you have old blankets or towels tucked away around that you don’t use anymore? Free up your linen closet and help homeless animals at the same time by donating these to local shelters. They help provide animals with much-needed warmth and comfort.
Keep an eye out around the home for items you no longer use and consider setting them aside for a shelter. Some of the things that shelters always need include blankets, towels, pet beds, laundry detergent, leashes and collars, dog toys, treats, food and water bowls, pet shampoo, and dog food.
Towels, blankets, and dog beds bring homeless pets a lot of comfort from the cold, hard floors of shelters. Years after being adopted, Gunther still likes to be tucked in.
5. Buy a Homeless Pet a Meal
If you’re busy, consider donating directly to shelters or rescues. These donations help buy food and beds for homeless pets and ensure they get the veterinary care they need. Some shelters and rescues even have monthly donation options. Just a few bucks a month can make an enormous difference to many homeless dogs.
6. Attend Local Events
Shelters, nonprofits, and rescues often hold local events to raise awareness and funds. Keep an eye out for these in the community, and consider attending or helping out with one. Whether it’s a pet walk, craft fair, adoption fair, or donation drive, it’s bound to be a fun event and a great opportunity to help homeless pets. Bring a friend or two if you go!
7. Become an Advocate
One of the biggest things you can do to make a difference is to help solve the problem at its source. Nonprofit animal advocacy groups such as Their Voice help homeless pets and help pass legislation to protect animals and end inhumane practices. For example, Their Voice has introduced local legislation to ban “puppy mills” and instead stock pet stores with rescue pups in need of adoption. This cuts down on inhumane breeding practices, helps prevent the spread of diseases such as Campylobacter, and increases visibility for dogs in need of adoption.
8. Give Gifts That Give Back
Whether you’re shopping for the holidays or just treating yourself, you can buy gifts that support shelters and nonprofits online or locally. Most shelters and rescues sell gifts at their location, and the ASPCA offers a selection of gifts online. Their Voice makes and sells beautiful pet-themed ornaments and handcrafted items with proceeds from these sales used to help homeless pets and create real change.
9. Host a Pet Donation Party
A great way to get friends and family involved and have fun for a good cause is to host a pet donation party. Throw a themed party, and ask each guest to bring a cash donation, towel, blanket, or some dog food. Not only will this help homeless pets, but it is a fun chance to get together and spread the word. To make the occasion even more memorable, you can include a dog theme. Drink wine and paint pet portraits, bake sugar cookies shaped like bones, or make some quick and easy dog DIYs together—some for the shelter or rescue you’re supporting, and some to pamper your own pets with.
Even if you’re just browsing the web, you can help homeless pets. Repost photos of adoptable dogs on social media. If you have a rescue, tell your story—it will inspire others to help, too. If you fell in love with a dog at the shelter but can’t adopt right now, ask if you can snap a photo and share it online.
While you’re posting cute adoptable dogs on Facebook and Instagram, you can also visit websites such as Freekibble to test your pet knowledge. Whether you answer right or wrong, food will be donated to homeless pets in need for every question you respond to.
11. Spread the Word
If someone you know is thinking about getting a pet, remind them that adoption is an option. If they want to give a dog as a gift, encourage them to give a gift certificate to a local shelter. That way, the gift recipient can pick out the perfect dog for them, and it gives a home to a dog in need.
Even if they are set on a particular breed or looking for a puppy, remind friends and family that many breeds, both mixed and purebred, are available at shelters, and that homeless pets come in all ages from puppies to seniors. As popular as purebred dogs are, mixed breed dogs are just as beautiful and often healthier. Mixed breed dogs have seen a surge in popularity as well—instead of spending an arm and a leg for a Labradoodle or a Pomchi, remind them to check the shelter first.
Many people don’t realize that dogs of all breeds and all ages can be found for adoption. Gunther the beagle was only a puppy when we brought him home.
Whether you adopt, donate your time, go shopping for a good cause, or just post on social media, you’ll be improving the lives of homeless pets. It is incredibly rewarding to make a difference, and we are each capable of creating real change. If we all help, we can find loving homes for each and every dog that dreams of having a family to call their own.