When it comes to rolling up your sleeves for a good cause, animals have a way of tugging on your heartstrings, especially during the holiday season. The idea of helping a pet in need is simply irresistible to so many people. Yet, you may have a few questions before you sign up. Will you get to play with the puppies and kittens? Can you buy them toys or treats? Most animal shelters will take whatever in-kind donations they can get, but sometimes what they really need isn’t material.
Your time can be one of the most valuable assets that you could donate to a local shelter. Many shelters offer training courses for volunteers who are able to regularly walk dogs so they can enjoy more time outside of the facility. Building a relationship with a shelter animal can really help when it’s time to find a forever home. You’ll be able to chime in on behavioral traits of the dogs and cats you’ve worked with, which can help a family decide if their choice is really the best fit. Every animal adoption should be mutually beneficial.
If you have the space at home, consider fostering a pet in need. The fewer animals that have to stay in a shelter, the better. Older adults are perfect candidates to be foster fur-parents. You’ll get to enjoy the company of one (or many) pets and you’ll have tips and tricks to share with your companion’s future family. It can be hard to let a foster animal go, but keep in mind that you’re doing incredible work.
When time isn’t an option, there are plenty of other ways you can give back to the animals in your community. For many shelters, monetary donations are number one on their wish list. But it’s understandable if you’d like to make a more personalized donation. Items often in high demand are cleaning supplies, clean towels or sheets, cat and dog food, cat litter, and of course, toys and beds!
Anything you can do to help is greatly appreciated. The best way to find out what your local animal shelter needs most is to pick up the phone and call. If they don’t have a need at the moment, ask about other volunteer opportunities they may have in the future. And once you decide to get involved, learn more about what’s expected of you from seasoned volunteers. You may just make a few new friends.