In addition to adopting or fostering a shelter pet, animal lovers can help shelters and rescued dogs and cats by becoming a volunteer, donating time, money or supplies and just by spreading the word.

Volunteer

Shelters need volunteers to do everything from feeding, caring for and keeping rescue animals company, to assisting at adoption events, stuffing envelopes for mailings, or spearheading a fundraiser.

As a volunteer, you can get an opportunity to give needy animals much needed love and attention. Cats will need their cages and litter boxes cleaned, and many will also appreciate a good cuddle or quality playtime. Dog walking is a great way to give shelter dogs the exercise they need, since many are confined to cages. Walking also gives dogs a opportunity for socialization and to learn the on-lease skills they’ll need in their new lives. If walking is not for you, you can volunteer as a driver. Rescued animals often need to be shuttled between shelters, or to and from the vet.

In most cases, you will need to fill out application forms to be a shelter volunteer. Some shelters require you to sign a liability-release agreement; some require you to attend volunteer orientation classes before you work with them. For more information and details, check your local shelters’ websites.

Make a Donation

Making a financial donation to a shelter can help cover their working and facilities costs, plus the costs of food and medical care. Beyond making a fiscal donation, shelters are in desperate need of supplies as well. Pet collars, beds, bowls and toys in good condition make good donations. Blankets, towels, and sheets are always appreciated; donated bedding helps create a more home-like environment for rescued pets and provides needed comfort to animals who are often frightened by their new surroundings. If you’re a sewer or knitter, consider creating comforters especially for shelter pets. Dogs and cats make “nests” out of small, handmade blankets, which eases stress while in shelters. Check with your local shelter on their donation needs and programs and the best ways you can help.

Spread the Word

Animal lovers can help the cause by telling other animal lovers about the value of shelter adoption. Many people are unaware that there are healthy dogs and cats available for adoption that can be longtime, loving and happy companions, or that there are pure breed rescue programs for those interested in a specific breed. If you know anyone considering getting a new pet, let them know how they can help a needy animal. You’ll be doing a good deed for a shelter pets and for their future owners.