5 Ways to Give Back to Local Pets for the Holidays
The holidays are for giving back to the ones you love—and for us, that includes a whole lot of animals! There’s no better time to help animals in need, and we have advice on how to make a difference.
#1. Volunteer at Your Local Animal Shelter
Shelters and rescue groups can almost always use some extra hands to help out! There are many basic tasks you can do like walking dogs and cleaning litter boxes. You might also have special skills that could come in handy!
Photographers can help snap pictures of adoptable shelter pets. Social media experts can help shelters gain more attention online. If you sew, you can put your sewing machine to work crafting beds and cage covers. Even administrative skills like accounting can be a huge asset to a busy rescue team that really wants to spend their time working hands-on with shelter animals, not doing paperwork.
#2. Organize a Donation Drive
You can give your local shelter or rescue exactly what they need during this hectic time with a donation drive!
First things first, make sure to ask the shelter what they need right now—there’s no point in showing up at the humane society with a car full of cat litter if they’re already fully stocked. Once you’ve got your list, put out a call to your job, school, neighborhood, or any group of animal lovers for the resources that are needed. Collect all the shelter donations and drop them off to the waiting staff who’ll put them all to very good use.
And of course, you can always raise money and donate that instead. Some shelters actually find that more helpful so they can buy the exact brands and products that they prefer—and sometimes at industry discounts, letting that money go even further.
#3. Foster a Pet
There are thousands of cats and dogs in the shelter system waiting for their permanent homes, and many of them can benefit from getting to wait in a comfortable home environment! Some foster animals need socialization, some need particular medical care, and some just find the shelter environment stressful and can’t shine in their best light there. Fostering a dog or cat frees up space in the shelter for more animals in need and lets foster families really get to know these pets so they can help make perfect, long-lasting matches between animals and potential adopters.
Foster care can be intimidating (particularly for the softies among us who bond quickly), but welcoming foster homes can make a huge difference in a shelter pet’s quality of life. As a foster parent, you’ll get to love and nurture wonderful animals, and you’ll know that you’ve improved every day of the rest of their lives by setting them up for success.
#4. Help the Homeless
We believe the best way to help an animal is almost always to keep them together with the family who loves them. There are homeless people across the map who have incredible bonds with their beloved pets, but might not always have the funds to give them the care they need. While these pet parents will bend over backward to make sure their best friend is fed and happy, there’s only so much they can do when times are really tight—or worse, when an unexpected vet bill pops up.
Organizations like Feeding Pets of the Homeless work to make sure every animal gets the care they need, regardless of a pet owner’s income. These programs save lives and keep families together, and they’re always happy to accept donations and volunteers to make an even bigger impact.
#5. Get Involved in TNR
TNR stands for “trap, neuter, return”—and this system is one of the best ways to help stray and feral cats!
In these programs, community members safely and humanely catch local strays and bring them to the vet for a quick visit. The cats get a spay/neuter and a general checkup to make sure they’re in good health. After getting ear-tipped to mark them as a neutered cat, they’re delivered right back to their home neighborhood and the cat colony they consider family. That means more happy, healthy cats and fewer new stray kittens on the streets!
Check with your local animal rescue organizations to see if they have an established TNR program that you can volunteer for. If there isn’t a TNR program in your community, consider starting one! Other TNR organizations are typically happy to provide advice and framework to help get new programs off the ground, and many veterinarians will offer free or reduced-cost visits for TNR cats.
There are many ways to make a difference, and changing even one animal’s life feels pretty dang great. Pets have so much love to give—it just makes sense to give love back to them.