9 Fantastic Ways to Help Your Local Animal Shelter

Person petting a dog.
Local animal shelters are always in need of help, and sometimes just a friendly touch! Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Have you ever thought about ways to help your local animal shelter? Not all of us can adopt a dog for various reasons. If you can, that’s great, and here are several reasons you might consider adopting.

But, maybe there are reasons you can’t adopt!

Maybe there are rules that prohibit adopting a pet where you live. It could be that you already have as many dogs as an HOA allows (that would be me!). Maybe you have an allergy to dogs and cats. The list goes on!

However, the animals in the shelters really do need our help!

So, even though we can’t adopt, there are numerous other ways that we can help them out. If you can do one of the ways suggested below, that would be awesome, and you would still be a hero to the animals in the shelter!

Remember to call your local animal shelter to see what they need the most. They may be well stocked on some supplies, but in desperate need of others. You want to make sure that the effort you expend brings about the greatest benefits!

(Note: Although this is geared toward dogs, this post applies to cats and other animals housed in the shelters).

Why is it important to help?

The Humane Society estimates that there are between 6 and 8 million animals sheltered each year.

A large number of these, about 2.4 million are perfectly healthy animals that are put down because no one adopts them. That’s about 274 animals per hour, if we look at a 24 hour day!

We lose entirely too many of these precious animals due to lack of shelter space and resources. This is where you can help your local adoption shelter, and the animals housed there!

Helping in one of the ways mentioned below can make such a difference in the lives of the animals housed there.

Here are some great ways to help your local animal shelters!

Let’s look at some specific ways you can help save the lives of so many animals!

Drop off pet food to the shelter!

When I asked my local adoption center what were some of the items I could help with, one of the first things mentioned was food! All the animals there need to eat, so adoption centers go through a lot of food!

The average dog will go through 1/3 to 4 cups of food per day depending on the dog’s size, and that can really add up, especially in large shelters!

The food you donate could provide comfort to a hungry, malnourished dog that may have been recently brought in. Keep in mind that shelters may not accept open bags of dog food for animal safety reasons.

Knowing that you have helped feed a hungry animal should give you a great feeling right there!

Animal shelters always need blankets and towels!

Dog wrapped in blanket
Blankets can make life so much easier!

Blankets and towels are a wonderful way to help your local shelter, and the animals in it! It is not even necessary that the blanket or towel be new, but they should be in a clean condition to be donated.

It may be best to call the shelter to find out what kind of blankets they are willing to accept, as some may not take comforter type blankets. If chewed, these could present a choking hazard to the animals.

Many times when a new dog comes into the shelter, it is confused and frightened. Blankets can help to comfort them.

The floors of shelters can be cold, and may also be hard for older bones to get comfortable on. Blankets can add a little bit of cushion and aid in keeping the animals warm!

Towels may also be used similar to blankets to provide comfort. Additionally, they can be used to dry wet dogs and act as cleaning rags.

Some shelters will accept electric blankets that are in good working condition. They can be used for dogs that may have medical issues and require a bit more warmth. Call your local shelter to find out if they do.

Comfortable, happy dogs are much more apt to put their best paw forward, and that can help with finding a permanent home. Blankets can greatly help with this!

Another big animal shelter need is cleaning supply donations!

Animal shelters have many surfaces, including floors, examination tables, desks, doorknobs, clothing, and the kennel surfaces where the animals are housed! Cleaning and disinfecting these areas are essential for a healthy environment.

Many animal shelters utilize ordinary household Clorox bleach (diluted 1/2 cup per gallon of water) for disinfecting surfaces. Bleach is highly effective against a number of germs, some of which may be fatal to dogs.

Towels come in very handy for cleaning up messes, or for drying animals after a bath. A clean shelter and clean dogs lend themselves to encouraging more adoptions.

Your local shelter will be able to give you guidance on exactly what types of disinfectants and cleaning supplies they prefer.

Animal shelters need dog personals!

Personal items are always in demand at shelters. These include things like:

  • Leashes
  • Collars
  • Food and Water Bowls
  • Pet beds

Shelters sometimes send items like this home with the volunteers that foster animals. This can create a deficit that needs to be replaced. Bowls may sometimes be broken by the animals. A good supply of pet personals is a necessity for shelters!

Like all organizations, animal shelters need office supplies!

Animal shelters can always use office supplies Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Organizations such as animal shelters need office supplies similar to any other business. This includes all of the basics like copy paper, pens, pencils, staples and staplers, notebooks, and more.

Donating office supplies frees up money for the shelter. The money can be used to more directly impact the animal’s comfort and health.

Monetary donations to animal shelters are always a great help!

Stack of dollar bills
Cash donations are always appreciated! Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Most of us remember graduating from high school. A lot of us may have been asked: “What would you like for your graduation present?”. And, a lot of us would have responded with a request for money. Why? We know the answer to that one!

Animal shelters are the same in this regard. Sure, they are more than happy to take donations of the items mentioned above. But, with monetary donations, they can use the funds exactly as they see fit, to do the most good for the sheltered animals.

On top of this, many shelters may have matching donation days. That’s a great way to take your cash donation and double it quickly, with no additional hit to your pocket!

I usually wait to donate until I see one of these days roll around. They have them twice a year at my local shelter. Call your local shelter and see if they have this!

Animal shelters can always use volunteers!

If you are good with animals, you may fit in as an animal shelter volunteer.

Animal shelters always need people to walk dogs or feed the animals. Food and exercise help with the animal’s happiness and well being, and makes their life less boring.

Bathing and grooming the animals is another task assigned to volunteers. Making the dogs look their best will absolutely help find permanent homes for them!

Volunteer your talents

If the tasks above aren’t for you, maybe you have a talent that could really help out!

I have dabbled in amateur photography for a number of years. Recently, I have thought about doing photoshoots for local animal shelters.

Many times these shelters don’t have anyone that has the knowledge to take pictures that will draw positive attention to the dog being photographed. Here is an excellent article on how to photograph shelter animals. Are you good with a camera? This could be an excellent opportunity to assist your local shelter.

If not photography, what kind of talents do you have that a rescue center might be able to utilize?

Maybe you are good at organizing events, such as fundraising. Helping in this capacity could be an invaluable service you could perform!

Possibly you are good with computers and can help with website design, or graphics. Maybe they just need people to perform data entry.

If you are good at DIY projects, you could also assist with building maintenance tasks or grounds maintenance.

There are numerous ways to help your local shelter by volunteering your talents. I am sure that they would be happy to discuss opportunities with you!

Foster care is an awesome way to help

Maybe you can’t adopt an animal because of long term commitments. If that’s the case, fostering may be for you!

Animal shelters need willing foster parents to temporarily house animals waiting to be adopted. They usually supply many of the things you would need for the dog such as leashes, collars, and bowls.

The shelters also supply any veterinary care required by the animal. This greatly reduces your expenses and ensures that the animal stays as healthy as possible.

And you? You supply the time and love.

How will you help your local animal shelter?

There were a number of suggestions mentioned in this post that are a great way to help. I am sure that searches would turn up even more ideas. Lastly, you can call your local shelter to see what they really need.

Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in some way with this need. I can almost promise you that you will get a lot out of, it and it’ll make you feel awesome inside!

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