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A woman smiles broadly while holding a fluffy kitten with a red collar. Behind them is a colorful, softly out-of-focus wall with chalkboard drawings and text, along with string lights adding a festive atmosphere.
Pet Blog

7 Ways to Help Your Local Animal Shelter

During the holidays, it may be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Let’s remember homeless pets waiting in shelters for their fur-ever homes. Along with volunteering your time at your local shelter, we wondered if there were other ways to help. We reached out to some of our favorite rescues and shelters for their ideas.

  1. BECOME A TEMPORARY FOSTER PARENT! Stephanie Nisan of The Animal Pad located in Southern California emphasizes that “Every one deserves a home for the holidays- even if just temporary. One of the most crucial and beneficial ways to help rescues during the holidays is to foster. The holidays are an incredibly busy time for everyone, including rescues. A short-term foster is not only a great way to capture the spirit of the season but a good way to learn how fostering works! Most likely, you'll discover you like fostering and want to continue, which could lead to a very happy new year for many pups in need!"
  2. DONATE NATURAL CLEANING SUPPLIES. Morgan Hudson of Life Is Better Rescue, located in Denver, CO – shares that "Shelters always need supplies to keep their shelter clean and prevent the spread of disease. Items like bleach, dish soap, laundry detergent, trash bags and disinfecting wipes are always in great demand, and even better, have no expiration date!"
  3. DONATE GEAR FOR TRAINING. Freedom Service Dogs in Denver, CO is a rescue group that trains rescue dogs to become service animals for disabled veterans. Erin Conley is the Director of Communications of – and she suggests donating specialized gear to help with training: “Shelters and rescues appreciate specialized gear for training, like 6’ webbed leashes (in basic black), 22″ and 24″ collars, and PetSafe 3-in-1 Harnesses”
  4. BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE… HELP KEEP THE SHELTER DOGS AND CATS COZY WITH WARM BEDDING! Laura McKelvy, Shelter Manager of PAWS Atlanta – Atlanta, GA says a great item to donate are fleece blankets. “Fleece often goes on sale during and after the holidays and it is a good, comfortable, and light weight option for the cats and dogs.” Makes it easy on the staff, too: “they have a lot of laundry to do and fleece washes and dries quickly to keep the pets in warm bedding more easily.”
  5. GOOD OLD-FASHIONED CASH. Kim Lehmann, Director of Operations at NMDR – Colorado Springs, CO says, making a monetary donation, especially for medical needs, is incredibly helpful. “... A Healing Hearts Fund has been established by NMDR to help us cover the cost for much needed surgeries and procedures.” Check with your shelter to see if they have a foundation already set up.
  6. PREMIUM FOOD & TREATS! Jessica DiNella, Founder of Rescue Warriors Corp says that “A great way to support your favorite rescue is to donate high quality food and treats (We LOVE “I and love and you”) to all the dogs and cats spending their holidays in the shelter. Rescue dogs deserve a healthy start. Premium quality is especially important to pets in shelters as they begin to rehabilitate from life on the streets and eating scraps, to regular meals.”
  7. PURCHASE ITEMS FROM YOUR SHELTER’S AMAZON SMILE ACCOUNT! If they don’t have one, perhaps you can help them set it up here. Kim Alboum, Humane Society Director Shelter Outreach and Policy Engagement reminded us: “People often are willing to donate to their local shelter but they don’t know what’s needed. Helping your shelter set up an supply list [wish list] not only makes it easy for people to help, it ensures shelter staff gets exactly what they need, when they need it. If your shelter already has such a list in place, help them by spreading the word, especially around the holidays!”

BONUS... REMEMBER THE SHELTER STAFF! From The Humane Society: Animal shelter staff members are often working extra hours with less staff during the holidays, so a small gesture can go a long way. Homemade muffins or cookies when you’re dropping off your donation to show your appreciation for their hard work.