Creative Ways to Help Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups Aside From Fostering

Written by:

Victoria Schade, CPDT-KA
Published: August 15, 2018

Fostering a dog or cat during their search for a forever home is a wonderful way to help animals in need from your local animal shelter, but it’s not always possible to bring home a temporary lodger. Whether it’s because of a resident pet that does better as a singleton, or a living space that doesn’t allow pets or multiple pets, fostering isn’t always a perfect fit.

But there are many other ways to support your neighborhood animal shelter or rescue organization that can also have a positive impact for shelter pets. Here are some unique ways to support your local animal shelter. 

Provide Transport

Many rescue organizations pull dogs from overcrowded and underfunded animal shelters in rural areas that are unable to rehome many of the dogs coming through their doors. These organizations rely on networks of drivers to transport the dogs to their rescues and then to other regions that can support them.

This type of volunteer transport commitment can be as involved as a long-haul, multi-state journey, or as quick as getting a dog from the local drop-off point to a waiting foster family. Sometimes rescue groups need help transporting animals to meet-and-greet events, which can mean a commitment of just a few hours.

Signing on to provide transport is actually a type of fostering; you’re just providing the dog care and comfort in your car instead of your home!

Donate Goods

Your local animal shelter or rescue group probably has a long wish list that you could easily help fulfill without spending a penny. Most organizations need items like old blankets and towels, gently used dog leashes and collars, unopened bags or cans of dog food, water bowls, and wire or plastic dog crates that your dog no longer needs (some rescue groups will even take opened food).

Of course, shelters and rescue groups also welcome brand new items, like tough, treat-stuffable toys, like the KONG Classic dog toy, that can help to provide important daily enrichment. You can also donate peanut butter and jerky treats, like the Wellness Pure Rewards grain-free chicken and lamb jerky bites, to help fill them.

Cats can also benefit from donated interactive cat toys, like the Kong Active Treat ball cat toy, as well as litter, litter boxes, cat treats and food.

And don’t forget about cleanup supplies; shelters can always use laundry detergent for the linens and hand soap for the volunteers and staff.

Make sure to check in with the organization prior to dropping anything off to ensure that your donation is truly needed, as some groups lack the storage for larger items.

Donate Time

Nearly every shelter or rescue group welcomes people power to help keep everything running smoothly. Sure, the dogs need walking and the kittens need cuddling, but there are other ways to pitch in.

After completing the necessary orientation and training, you might end up checking references for potential adopters by phone or holding leashes at off-site adoption events.

Think your kids are too young to get involved? Many shelters have KONG-stuffing parties, where junior animal shelter volunteers can help prep dog treat toys for dogs awaiting forever homes.

And if you can only volunteer during off-hours, consider offering your professional skills, like web design, accounting or social media expertise.

Attend Fundraising Events

Animal shelters and rescue groups often run creative fundraising parties, like bingo nights, yappy hours and holiday photo sessions. Attending these types of events is a great way to show your support while having fun.

It takes a great deal of effort to organize a fundraiser, so support from the community demonstrates that those efforts are appreciated. Plus, going to events allows you to say thank you to your local hardworking animal rescue staff in person. A handshake and pat on the back lets them know that you value all they do for the animal community.

Share Adoptable Animals Online

Social media is a simple yet powerful way to help shelter pets find their forever homes. Spread the love on your social media accounts whenever you spot a dog or cat in need of a forever home, especially older pets that are well past the adorable puppy and kitten stage. (Don’t forget to make the posts public so others can share them as well.)

Think you’re a decent photographer? Ask your local rescue group if you can schedule time to take photos of the animals looking for homes. Quality photographs that show off a dog or cat’s adorable personality will lead to even more social media love and quicker adoptions.

Make a Charitable Contribution

Most pet charities run on tight budgets, so funds from the animal-loving community help to ease the financial strain.

There are many ways to give, from a one-time donation or monthly pledges to memorial gifts in honor of lost loved ones. And it’s easy to turn your dollars into a meaningful contribution, as most groups have simple online donation options.

By Victoria Schade

Image via a katz/