By JeanneBennett

Spirit staff Pet Advocate

Shelters and rescue groups are really wonderful. They are usually made up of passionate, unsung heroes who go above and beyond what many would consider “normal” efforts to help the countless animals that find themselves homeless and many times broken and unwanted.

Despite their efforts, they are unable to do it all alone. That’s where mere mortals come in; everyday folks like you and me, who may not have the time, resources or know how to help on a large scale, but still would like to help wherever and whenever we can.

Not everyone can trap animals, heal sick animals or feed a colony of feral cats (not everyone should even try) but there is still a lot that anyone with the desire to help and a few hours can do. Here are some suggestions for those who need some inspiration:

  • Help a neighbor out. If you know of someone struggling to make ends meet, play Secret Santa and leave a care package of pet food and treats on their doorstep with a note from Santa. You can even offer to walk their dog or to clean out their cat’s litter box if the problem is physical not financial limitations.
  • When shopping, pick up an extra can of dog or cat food and drop it off at your local shelter. Or you can visit the website and social media pages of your local animal shelter and print out their wish list so you can have it with you when you go shopping. Share it on your social media pages and encourage your friends and followers to give.
  • Get to know your local shelters and rescue groups. A simple Google search can reveal shelters and rescue groups in your area that would be glad to receive any help that you could give. You may be surprised how many groups nearby are helping animals.
  • When making your Christmas wish lists, don’t forget about your local shelter. Encourage family and friends to make a donation to your favorite rescue or animal shelter in your name.
  • Support those that rescue by purchasing t-shirts, calendars, etc. they sell as fundraisers. You can never have too many t-shirts and they make great gifts for that person who has everything.
  • Use your love of crafting to make toys, pillows, blankets or whatever for shelter pets. This is also a great way to keep the kids in your life busy while they are on Christmas break and introduce them to the concept of giving back. One of my favorite and easiest projects is braid strips of fleece into fun for dogs, or cutting and folding a surprising household object into a cat distractor.
  • Become a fan: “Like” the Shelter Pet Project on Facebook. Then, if possible, “like” the individual groups in your community, too. Share their posts when you see them and invite your friends to like them too.
  • Become a foster parent. There are all types of pets that need out of the shelters. Some of them just don’t do well in the noisy environment of a shelter and having a nice home to live in while they wait for there forever home would make a huge difference in their mental and physical well-being. Fostering also doesn’t have to be for a long period of time you can also take an animal for a few days over the holidays when a lot of shelters try to give their employees and volunteers a break.
  • If you are planning to adopt soon, consider adopting an older pet or a pet with a disability. This, of course, isn’t for everyone but if you can do it go for it.
  • Even if you can’t adopt or foster a pet just now, you can help make life better for homeless animals by volunteering with your local shelter or rescue organization. Do you have experience as a carpenter or electrician? Are you a marketing or dog-walking whiz? All of these skills are valuable! Any help is appreciated get in touch with your local shelter to see how you can help.
  • Help at your own home by following some simple rules with your own pets. Make the jobs of shelters and rescues easier: Outfit your cats and dogs with collars and proper ID (a microchip and ID tags) at all times. As soon as you bring them into your family, have all of your pets spayed or neutered. Keep your cats indoors, where you can keep them safe (though it’s great to take them on walks if they are comfortable on a harness and leash), and keep dogs on leashes when off your property.
  • Help your shelter make positive changes by advocating for shelters and groups that help animals. While advocacy is important it doesn’t have to be a full time job. It can be as simple as sharing a story on social media. Letting the public know about legislation that supports animal rescue or spreading the word about animal rescue simply by having a conversation.
  • Cleaning out your linen closet? Don’t throw those old sheets, blankets and towels away. Donate them to your local shelter. They are always in need of additional bedding for the animals in residence. They could also use your old newspapers. Just make sure to call the shelter first to find out what the procedure is for donating before you show up with a trunk full of donations.

Whatever you are able to do, just know that it will be greatly appreciated by the shelter and the animals.

Titus is available for adoption at Providence Animal Center in Media, PA

Titus is available for adoption at Providence
Animal Center in Media, PA

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