How to Help a Shelter, Even If You Can’t Adopt

Clear the Shelters
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Maybe you’ve already got two golden retrievers, or you’re allergic to cats or you’re not sure you’re ready for a new pet.

Your neighborhood animal shelter — and its assortment of dogs and cats — can still use your help.

Here are ways to help animals in need, even if you can’t adopt:

1. Volunteer. A shelter needs people to walk and bathe dogs, help with the feedings, serve as adoption counselors and do lots of other jobs necessary to keep the rescues going. At South Florida’s Humane Society of Broward County, for example, volunteers caring for the dogs and cats awaiting adoption do everything from scooping poop to assisting with the spaying and neutering, especially if they have a medical background, said Mary Steffen, the senior vice president of operations.

“They come here for their animal fix,” she said.

2. Foster. If you’ve got room for some temporary furry visitors, shelters want to hear from you. The Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco has about 80 dogs at a time, but room for only 30 at the shelter.

“We literary cannot save lives if we do not have foster homes,” said Sherri Franklin, the founder and executive director of the rescue organization, which takes dogs 7 years and older.

Franklin says the animals stay from six weeks to three months. Failed fosters — those who decide to keep their four-legged guests — are welcome too.

“That’s the only kind of failure we like,” she said.

3. Donate. Non-profit animal rescues rely on donations to operate. Check websites to find out how you can give to a particular shelter — whether directly, through neighborhood thrift stores, or with a percentage of your purchase while shopping online through programs such as AmazonSmile. Shelter officials say you should make sure your donation is going where you want it to — whether to a national organization or to a local one — and not assume the money will trickle down.

For shelters participating in this year’s Clear the Shelters initiative, you can donate directly to those individual organizations through Fund the Shelters. A list of shelters, sorted by state, is available here

Look for “wish lists” on websites, which cover everything from towels and wash cloths to food and nail clippers to larger, more expensive items. The Animal Rescue League of Boston, with shelters in Boston, Brewster and Dedham, publishes its lists through Amazon.com. Or if you have the needed items at home, you can drop those off at the shelters, said the marketing manager, Lisa Graham.

4. Socialize. Host benefits or help out at adoption days and other events. Shelter supporters organize happy hours, golf outings, dog walks and other gatherings to raise funds. Other volunteers design newsletters and websites, collect items for auctions and promote adoptions on social media.

“Social media is a big part of our rescue,” Franklin said. 

She recently posted a photo of a Pomeranian as part of a plea for help in transporting six dogs from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

“I posted it on Facebook and I got 75 responses within two hours of people wanting to help,” she said.

Help in attending — and throwing — fundraisers and benefits is also key. Famous Fido Rescue in Chicago, for example, held a fundraiser on Aug. 23, 2015 for a new headquarters, a 10,000-square-foot building. In addition to space for the animals, a counselor to help struggling owners keep their pets and a station to micro-chip animals, the new building was also set to include a rescue store, a pet-supply store that directed its profits back to the animals.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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559-324-2465

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COMMON ITEMS YOU CAN DONATE



 
  • Towels and blankets - Shelters are often cold and animals like to have a blanket to curl up on. Towels are a big help to dry animals off after being bathed or if they come in wet. Towels can also be used to line the bottoms of cages. The towels or blankets don't have to be brand new or in perfect condition. The animals won't mind, as long as they're usable.
  • Canned and Dry Food for Cats and Dogs-Healthy - Healthy pet options for nourishment
  • Kitty litter and cat boxes - Cats go to the bathroom- a lot. Shelters are constantly using bag after bag of litter. Their supply runs out fast.
  • Puppy or kitten formula and nursing bottles - Sometimes there are situations where a young puppy or kitten who is not weaned gets separated from their mother. In these situations they need puppy or kitten formula to survive.
  • Old newspaper - When you're done with your newspapers you usually just throw them away or recycle them, right? You could help animals at no cost to you if you just save up your old newspapers. Newspapers are used in the bottoms of cages. They get soiled quickly, so they're in constant demand.
  • Collars, harnesses, and leashes - Dogs who are taken out on walks need a leash and collar or harness. The shelter loses some because adopted dogs often go home with their leash or harness.
  • Grooming supplies - Grooming supplies can include shampoo, brushes, combs, haircutting scissors, etc. Dogs and cats often come in dirty or end up getting dirty. Grooming supplies can keep them fresh, clean, and adoptable.
  • Toys - You would get bored if you had to lay in a crate alone all day, wouldn't you? Animals in shelters get bored, too. It keeps the animals from being so lonely and bored and allows them to get exercise. You could go out and buy new toys, or you could donate toys your pets or children may have not gotten much use out of. It's as simple as that.
  • Crates and carriers - Animals need to be transported somehow, and the cost of multiple crates and carriers can add up quickly. You can donate ones you stopped using that are still in good condition or you could go buy one for a decent price. This helps the shelter tremendously.
  • Paper towels and cleaning supplies - There are a lot of situations that get messy, so paper towels are a big help.
  • Hand wash and hand sanitizer - People who work at shelters need to keep their hands clean for their and the animals' health.
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, and bleach - Towels and blankets get soiled often so the washing machines are being used a lot
  • Dog and cat beds - this can offer the animals a soft place to lay instead of a kennel or cage floor.
  • Heating pads - Many animals come in cold or are young and need warmth. Heating pads can replace a mother's warmth.
  • Copy paper and pens, pencils, post-it notes and staples - You can't forget about all the paperwork that has to be done. Donating these items makes it so the shelter doesn't have to buy them on their own.
  • Garbage bags, mops, brooms, and sponges - The shelter uses these every day and clean up supplies can get expensive.
  • Food bowls - As new animals come in, the shelter needs new places to put food. Having an adequate supply could mean life or death for an animal in a shelter.
  • Rubber and latex gloves - A lot of messy stuff happens and gloves are necessary to lessen the spread of germs.
  • Plastic shopping bags - Plastic bags can be used to clean up dog mess and to store things in.

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