Let’s face it, the homeless pet population isn’t going to magically go down any time soon. All over the country, animals are abandoned, surrendered, and lost at rates that rescues, shelters, and humane societies can’t even keep up with. There is indeed a movement gaining momentum, of animal lovers all over the world who are taking on the responsibility of animal welfare – and in some cases, changing their whole lives to revolve around it! While many have the dream of devoting their whole life to opening an animal sanctuary or rescue facility, it is seldom a realistic option. Below, there are different ways for busy animal lovers to make a difference to pets in need without having to turn your whole life upside-down. Some may be options you have never thought about, and others may be obvious, but hopefully we help you think about it differently so you find new motivation to finally get to it:
- Volunteer at an Animal Shelter: Even the busiest of people can find the time to volunteer at a local animal shelter, sanctuary, or humane society for an hour or two a week. Facilities that house homeless animals can always use some extra help, in the form of dog walkers, kennel washers, cat socializers, or even someone to do laundry! You’d be surprised how many dirty towels, blankets, leashes, aprons, toys, and beds pile up after just one day at an animal shelter, especially if no one wants to do it! This could be the perfect task for someone whose disabilities, age, and/or fears prevent them from being with animals, but still want to help. Socializing the pets is very important, because it makes the pets more comfortable and friendly at the facility, which makes them more “adoptable” to the public! Even if you don’t have time to actually walk the dogs, it can be just as crucial to go and take all of them out in the morning to go potty (so they don’t have to go to the bathroom in their kennels), or even just visit all of the dogs and give them treats to improve their “kennel front presentation.” There are numerous ways to lend a helping hand to an animal shelter, and you can put as much time in as you want – just be warned, it’s so rewarding that it can actually be quite addicting!
- Donate Money and/or Items: Another fairly obvious way that you can help is to donate either money or items to animal welfare organizations in your area. Again, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed and think, “I can’t donate that much, so I just won’t donate at all,” or any such thought – every amount literally helps no matter how small! If you can donate a dollar a month, that’s one more dollar that will be going towards a new collar, a can of food, or a toy! If you happen to be at the store, look at the clearance aisle and see if there are any affordable toys, beds, blankets, etc. that you can purchase and donate to a rescue without breaking the bank. If you are super thrifty and also crafty, you can even make your own blankets, scarves, collars, and toys to donate!
- Work With a Local Rescue Non-Profit: If you would like to team up with a local rescue non-profit in your area, that is a very efficient way to directly impact homeless animals’ lives. Rescues partner with the shelters/humane societies/sanctuaries in the area to help at-risk animals in danger of euthanasia safely out of the facility. Due to the overwhelming number of homeless pets often filling shelter facilities to capacity, decisions are made to euthanize certain animals deemed “less adoptable” for many reasons including: behavioral issues, terminal illness, old age, disabilities, and even for being too young! Usually rescues target these animals in particular, therefore committing to helping to treat their illness, rehabilitate their disability, train them in order to fix their behavior issues, or just make their final months or years of life as comfortable as possible . Other rescues target specific breeds, ages, or even skip the shelter altogether and take in strays and surrenders from people who reach out to them. Because rescues are usually small organizations, they often need people to not only come walk the dogs, go to the shelter on their behalf and “pull” a dog from the shelter, transport rescue pets to foster homes, foster rescue pets themselves, help with adoption events/fundraisers, or even post updates on social media. I can guarantee you that if you offer help to a rescue or two (or three) in your area, they will gladly accept your help!
- Watch Out For Fundraisers In Your Area: Rescue non-profits are known to have several fundraisers a year, so if you keep your eye out for them being advertised, your attendance will help needy animals! Some rescues have rummage sales and yard sales, selling donated items in order to raise money for their animals, and others have online auctions as well. A pretty common fundraiser event involves a rescue partnering with a local restaurant or store to have a period of time in which a certain percentage of people’s purchases will go towards the rescue! That is so easy for you to do, and literally just involves you going to the restaurant and eating, or checking out a store and shopping a little bit. I mean, aren’t we always looking for excuses to justify our spending habits, anyway?
- Be Pro-Active in Every Day Life: In your average day-to-day activities and adventures, be aware of your surroundings in case there is a stray animal running around. Many times, a dog’s life could have been saved if someone simply took the time to pull over, look at the dog’s tag, and try to find its owner. In other cases, cats could have been reunited with their owner if someone had taken a photo of it and uploaded it to a local community page on Facebook or Craigslist, which is not difficult either. No matter how big of a hurry you’re in, there is NO excuse to ignore a stray animal in need! For stray animals that don’t have a collar or a name tag, you can bring it to your nearest animal shelter/sanctuary facility that has a microchip scanner so that you can try and find the owner that way. If they don’t have a microchip, then you can either leave it with the shelter (if that’s possible), or foster it until you find the owner yourself. You may want to jump to conclusions and think, “The owner must not care about this animal if it’s running around!” But, you don’t know how long the animal has been free – it could have slipped out for a few minutes while its owner was either not home or sleeping. If a stray animal appears to be pretty neglected – with matted fur, ribs showing, and/or an injury, you could literally save its life by bringing it to a shelter or animal hospital! Abandoned and neglected animals especially depend on the kindness of strangers passing by, because they have no one else to rely on. Please try and be that person!
Everyone these days leads a pretty busy life, and we always find ourselves saying things such as, “I don’t have time to (insert task here),” and “There are just not enough hours in the day!” That being said, if there is a living soul that is in desperate need of help, wouldn’t you stop everything and MAKE time to help them out? Well, think about that next time you find yourself thinking, “I wish I could volunteer, but I don’t have time,” or “I would totally help out a rescue but I’m just so busy!” The truth is, that we can ALL make a LITTLE bit of time to help out homeless animals that need our collective efforts very badly. No matter how much time you can set aside, whether it’s an hour a week, or an hour a MONTH, EVERY MINUTE COUNTS and touches the innocent, needy, animal lives around you. So go out there, and find out how you can impact animals’ lives as soon as possible – I promise, you will be glad that you did!