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How to Help Your Favorite Rescue (When You Can’t Actually Adopt a Pet)

Advocacy 05.25.2018
By Jill Caren
How You Can Help Shelters If You Cannot Adopt
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Helping Shelter AnimalsHow do you help your favorite animal rescue group when you can’t actually adopt another pet? It’s easier than you might think, and it doesn’t always require money

I have a problem. I cannot walk into a shelter without bursting into hysterical tears. It’s gotten to them point where no one in my family will step foot within 100 yards of a shelter or adoption event if I’m with them. Maybe I over empathize. I definitely anthropomorphize. I just can’t stand the idea of all those cats and dogs waiting for someone to love them.

Obviously, I can’t adopt every animal I meet. I already have two dogs and three cats. If I had a farm, maybe I could get away with more, but for now, I’m at my limit. Instead, I have to find ways to support my favorite rescue groups without bringing home more animals.

Whether you’re like me and at your pet limit or can’t open your home up to an animal in need for another reason, these ideas will help you help your favorite rescue in other ways!

5 Ways to Support Animal Rescue Groups When You Can’t Adopt

While donating much-needed money is one of the simplest ways to support your favorite rescue, not all of us have a lot of extra cash to spare. Most of these things don’t really require you to spend a lot of money (in some cases, you won’t have to spend a dime). Even if you give monetary donations, shelters will definitely appreciate it when you go the extra mile.

1. Volunteer your time

You know that saying, “time is money”? Well, in this case, your time doesn’t cost you anything, but it can be just as beneficial as donating money to a shelter. Volunteering to walk dogs, help clean out kennels, and even organize their supply room saves them the cost of hiring someone else to do it.

Volunteering doesn’t just help the animals, either. Studies show that it’s also beneficial to your health! A Carnegie Mellon University study found that volunteering as little as 200 hours a year (about 4 hours a week) contributed to lower blood pressure in participants. Another study showed benefits after just 100 hours a year (or about 2 hours a week).

2. Donate your talents

Nearly everyone has at least one helpful talent that they can donate to their favorite cause. Whether you are a genius with a sewing machine or a master graphic artist, you can find a way to use those talents to help animals in need.

For example, if sewing is your forte, you can make warm blankets or cozy dog beds to bring a little comfort to a cold, hard kennel floor. A whiz with Photoshop? Help your local shelter make flyers for their next adoption event. Got a knack for words? Volunteer to write their monthly newsletter.

Bear is doing his part in collecting toys for his friends with no homes. How about you?

3. Host a food & supplies drive

Shelters have an ongoing list of food and supplies that they need to keep their rescue running. Ask for their latest list, then put your organizing talents together to host a drive.

Call your friends and family and ask what they can donate. I also talk to dog friendly stores near me about leaving a collection bin in their entrance. You can even get groups like the PTA or Scouts involved in helping you collect supplies. Once you’ve collected as much as you can, arrange a drop-off time with your local shelter. Even something as simple as buying gifts for animal lovers online can help rescues all over the world since many stores will make donations from all their earned revenue!

4. Use your influence

What some of us lack in crafting talent and real-world social interactions, we make up for in online influence. I can’t thread a needle to save my life, and I’m super shy when it comes to face-to-face interactions. I do, however, have a decent following on social media.

Whether you’re an Instagram superstar, an avid Twitter user, or even just happen to have a lot of friends on Facebook, you can use that influence to help your favorite rescue. Share their posts on your own social media or create your own status updates encouraging your fans to help out. Just make sure you check with them before creating posts using their logo or trademark.

If you have the time and the know-how, you can even offer to help run your local shelter’s social media pages. Social media managers are not cheap, so offering that service could save them hundreds of dollars a month that could go towards other necessities.

5. Show up and have fun!

One of the easiest ways to help out your local shelter is to simply show up at their fundraising events and have a good time!

My local shelter hosts multiple events of all sizes and for every budget each year. Some of these events, like their annual tricky tray (basically, a silent auction, but for gift baskets and other goodies from local merchants), cost very little to attend and you even have a chance to win something.

Other events, like the Halloween costume ball and their annual holiday party, are a bit fancier. I love them because they give me a reason to get dressed up! These events are also a great place to meet other animal lovers and network with each other to come up with new ideas for supporting your cause.

It would be nice if we all had ginormous farms and could take in every pet that needed a home, but that’s just not the reality for most of us. Bottom line, you don’t have to actually adopt animals to help them lead better lives. There are so many things you can do to lend a hand to the organizations that dedicate their lives to saving animals.

If none of these options work for you, simply call up your local rescue and ask, “what can I do to help?” You might be surprised by some of their simple requests. Remember, even the smallest task done by an employee costs the shelter money and time. Anything you can do to ease their burden will help the animals in their care as well.

Jill Caren

Jill Caren Bio Logo

Jill Caren

Jill is the owner and creator of CharityPaws and has been involved in animal rescue for over 12 years as a volunteer and board member for Jersey Animal Welfare Society. You can read all of her articles here.

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