With the season of giving upon us once again, it’s time to get involved! It’s always fun to find creative, new ways to help out the community, and one of the most compassionate things a pet-loving Samaritan can do is help out at local shelters and rescues. Not only is this a great way to help the many animals taking refugethere, but it’s also a great way to help the people who work tirelesslyto shelter and comfort those animals.
Too often, staff members at shelters and rescues work incredibly long hours, and very often do so on a volunteer basis. So, as you might imagine, any assistance is greatly appreciated! Here are some of the easiest ways you can get involved this holiday season:
- Social Media: Many shelters and rescues rely on social media as a free, effective means of getting their message out. First, take a moment to find great local shelters near you, then see if they have a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other sort of social media account that you can “like” or “follow.” You can then help out by simply sharing their posts, inviting others to like them on social media and/or tagging friends in their photos that spotlight animals in need of a new home.
- Spay or Neuter Your Pets: This may seem like a stretch, but combating pet overpopulation is one of the single most effective ways you can help shelters and rescues in the long-term basis. Use the holidays as an opportunity to finally schedule that routine surgery you might have been putting off. Just like anything else, it’s better to get done sooner than later, but in this scenario, it’s best to get done now before any unexpected surprises occur!
- Donate: Whether they’re common household items like cleaning supplies and blankets, essential pet items like water bowls and toys, or just good ol’ food and treats, donations are hugely beneficial to shelters and rescues. However, it’s always a good idea to give them a call beforehand to find out what they need the most, which will ensure your donations don’t go unused. Other items to consider donating are things like pet carriers and cages, grooming supplies like shampoo and brushes, and cat litter.
- Volunteer: This is the big one! Indeed, volunteering your time is one of the most valuable contributions you can give during the holiday season. Plus, you’ll get to meet and play with all sorts of animals during your time there, meaning that your time spent volunteering will be just as entertaining as it is rewarding. Even if you don’t have much time to commit to volunteering, shelters almost always welcome people who simply show up to help walk, play with, and/or provide affection to animals in need. And you never know who might just steal your heart, which could very well lead to…
- Adoption: Now, you don’t have to go into a volunteer stint with the intention of adopting, and it’s by no means expected that you do—rest assured, your assistance willbe help enough. But in some cases, you might not be able to help but grow attached to one of the pets you’ll get to play with and take care of over the course of several hours or even days. And if you do have an interest in adopting, spending a few hours volunteering is a great way to get to get to know the animals and their unique personalities, which is very helpful in determining the best fit for you.
If you’re interested in getting involved this holiday season but you just don’t know where your nearest shelter or rescue is, check out The Shelter Pet Project. This handy online website allows you to simply enter your zip code to generate a comprehensive listing of local shelters and rescues near you in addition to their contact information, links to their social media and information about any available volunteer opportunities. It’s definitely a great starting point, and makes giving back even easier!