It’s a sad fact that our animal shelters and the people who work there often go unnoticed and unrecognized. But the work they do is vitally important for society, and it is lifesaving for the animals in their care. Broadway Barks reached out to a few shelters throughout the United States to find out what they wish people in their communities would do for them. Here’s what these unsung heroes said they really need people to do:
1.) Donate Snacks
Some days at the shelter are so long and busy that staff and volunteers don’t have time to get lunch. Donating packaged snacks and drinks allows staff and volunteers to grab a quick nibble before walking the next dog, reviewing paperwork, or cleaning kennels. So the next time you’re grocery shopping, pick up some packaged nuts, crackers, cookies, bottled water, or Capri Suns for those who work so hard to save the animals.
2.) Donate Towels and Blankets
Shelters use a lot of towels and blankets. And because they wash these items all the time, often using bleach, they don’t last as long as they would in a normal household. Consider going through your linen closet and donating old blankets and towels to your location rescue or shelter. They can use them as pet bedding or to clean the kennels.
3.) Help with Landscaping and Cleaning
Do you have a green thumb? Or are you a clean freak who loves to scrub? Animal shelters can always use help in these areas. Shelters with outdoor runs or exercise fields need help scooping poop, mowing lawns, and trimming shrubs. Assistance is needed inside, too, where kennels need daily scrubbing and common areas require cleaning and disinfecting. And don’t get me started on the amount of laundry that shelters need washed every day!
4.) Make Movies
It has been proven time and time again that when animals up for adoption have videos attached to their profiles they get adopted faster. This is because videos allow potential adopters to see the animal interact with people or other animals. Videos let their personalities shine through! So if you love blogging or making home movies, cast animals from your local shelter and share with the shelter, and your friends and family on your website or social media. You will be making a huge difference!
5.) Volunteer for Bath Time
Animals up for adoption need to look and smell their best. Many of the animals in shelters have experienced trauma and neglect, so getting a proper bath not only makes them feel better, it can also be essential to getting them healthy again. And, as you can imagine, shelters that have dozens of animals need all the help they can get when it comes to keeping everyone clean and spiffy. Donate an afternoon to dog washing—It will cleanse the pups and your soul.
6.) Donate Your Professional Expertise
Animal rescue groups and shelters have the same needs as many small businesses. Not only do they need day-to-day cleaning and maintenance, they also require professional business services like marketing, public relations, photography, graphic design, and website design and maintenance services to keep their operation running smoothly. If you have expertise in any of these areas, donating just a few hours of your time a month can help the shelter communicate with the public and spread the word about adoptable animals.
7.) Donate Tunes
Can’t live without music in your life? Well, guess what? Animals LOVE music, too! If you are like me, you have about three older-generation iPods that are chock full of your favorite music. You could trade them in or sell them, but why not donate them to your animal shelter along with an inexpensive speaker set? Then the shelter can play music in the kennel area to calm the animals and enrich their environment. If you’re not sure whether the animals will approve of your song choices, you can download soothing musical selections popular with cats and dogs from iTunes.
8.) Take a Walk
When rescues and shelters have dozens of animals in their care it can be difficult to give each dog a daily long walk, or each cat some important lap and play time. For this reason, many shelters welcome volunteer dog walkers and cat cuddlers because they know these activities are important for keeping the animals engaged, happy, and socialized. It’s also a perfect way for people who live in apartments that don’t allow pets to get their dog and cat fix. And remember, walking a dog has health benefits for humans, too!
9.) Spread the Word
Are you a social media junkie with Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, and/or Instagram accounts? Well, why not use your social media skills for a great cause? Visit a shelter, and then post photos and videos of adoptable animals on your various accounts. Tell people about the animals, and help them fall in love! Social media helps the word spread like wildfire, and that’s a quick way to help find a home for these needy animals.
10.) Donate Toys
Maybe your pet has toys that no longer interest him, or perhaps you’re in an arts and crafts phase and you’ve made toys from old rope, socks, or water bottles (ideas and instructions here). Maybe you’ve got some cash burning a hole in your pocket and you want to buy some toys to donate. You could even order them online and have them sent directly to the shelter. There are lots of ways to ensure that the cats and dogs at your local shelter have plenty of toys to keep themselves active and happy.
OK, so there are ten easy ways to help rescues and shelters that Broadway Barks came up with. What are your thoughts? If you have an idea for how to help animal rescues and shelters post a comment and let us know!