Dog shelters perform noble work, providing care and refuge for dogs when they need it most. However, they often face many challenges, including limited resources, staff shortages, and a constant influx of homeless pets. Luckily, there are many ways in which you can extend a helping hand and significantly impact the well-being of innocent animals.
Precisely this has been our dedication for the past four years by funding Every Dog Matters EU, doing our best to support dogs’ welfare. If you want to learn more about the changes and the positive impact we’ve achieved so far, you can do so here.
Let’s dive into some of the best ways to help your local shelter, as every effort counts and makes a difference.
Like any nonprofit organization, dog shelters often have a tight budget and limited resources. With less staffing, volunteers play a critical role in filling this gap and helping care for the dogs housed by the shelter. By volunteering time at a dog shelter, you can contribute significantly to the effort of nurturing, rehabilitating, and eventually rehoming these loving animals.
At most shelters, dogs find it hard to even make it out of their cages for a walk due to the lack of staff/volunteers. By volunteering, you’re giving more dogs a chance to explore the surroundings, have the opportunity to sniff, socialize, play, and just enjoy being free for a while.
There is always a need for extra hands, whether preparing meals, serving the dogs, or cleaning up afterward. Doing so can ensure that all dogs are well-nourished and contribute to their health and well-being.
Socializing dogs is another important job for volunteers. Regular human interaction is essential for the emotional health of the canine, especially for those with a history of trauma or abuse. By spending time walking, playing with them, or giving them a scratch, you provide a sense of love and security, which goes a long way in their rehabilitation and subsequent integration into their potential new home.
2. Go on a Team Building
Going on team building at a dog shelter is a great way to combine a fun experience with a meaningful charity cause. You and your colleagues can enjoy various games and challenges that test your creativity, communication, and collaboration skills while interacting with the dogs and learning more about their personalities and needs.
Team buildings are very important for shelters because many people contribute a lot of help at once, which can benefit the dogs and the staff for many months. During the team building event, you can help with different tasks like physical & construction work, cleaning the dog area, painting new homes, walking the dogs on a longer walk, petting the puppies, etc.
At the end of the day, the satisfaction of helping those in need is just the sweetest.
3. Bring Awareness
Advocacy is one of the most potent ways to support your local dog shelter. Using your voice on different platforms can help raise awareness about the various issues that shelters often face.
Social media is a powerful tool for spreading information, influencing public opinion, and mobilizing action. It can be an excellent platform for encouraging dog adoption, promoting volunteer opportunities within dog shelters, or spreading educational information. Using platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to share captivating images and heartwarming stories can bring awareness to your local shelters. Each post not only has the potential to reach hundreds or even thousands of people, but more importantly, it may influence someone’s decision to adopt a dog in need.
Sharing canine content on posts or stories can just be the starting point. Following that with a live stream of the dogs’ playtime or sharing an infographic about the benefits of adopting a rescue dog raises the reach and potential impact of the adoption message.
Despite the influence of digital platforms, traditional word-of-mouth remains the significant promoter of causes and initiatives. By engaging in conversations with friends and family, you can encourage them to consider adopting dogs from shelters rather than buying them from breeders or pet stores. Furthermore, you can educate others about how to help their local shelters.
By spreading awareness, knowledge, and example, we can create positive change and inspire others to volunteer their time or skills and support the shelter’s operations.
4. Stay Informed and Get Engaged
One of the other ways you can help your local shelter is by staying updated about the shelter’s work, needs, and activities.
You can do all of that by visiting their websites, subscribing to their newsletters, following their social media accounts, reading their blogs, watching their videos, etc. Doing so lets you align with the shelter’s mission, vision, values, programs, services, and events. You can always contact the shelters directly and ask them any questions you may have or offer any suggestions or feedback you may have.
Another way to help is to support and promote the shelter’s activities. You can share and comment on their posts on social media, invite your friends and family to like and follow them, and spread the word about their adoption opportunities, fundraising campaigns, and educational initiatives. You can also participate in their events, such as adoption fairs, spay/neuter clinics, and volunteer orientations.
Staying informed and engaged with the shelters is a rewarding and meaningful way to help. You can gain more knowledge and insight into the shelters’ work and needs. You can also build relationships with other animal lovers and advocates who share your passion for dogs.
5. Spay Your Pet
We wouldn’t be writing this article if every pet owner was responsible for spraying their dog.
Such a procedure will not only benefit your pet’s health, behavior, and lifespan, but by doing so, you can help reduce the overpopulation of unwanted pets, freeing up space and resources for the shelters to care for other animals in need.
Regarding the health and longevity of canines, spaying or neutering can prevent infections and tumors of the reproductive tract and most types of cancer. When discussing their behavior and happiness, the procedure can reduce or eliminate unwanted behaviors such as aggression, marking, howling, mounting, etc. It can also make your pet more calm and affectionate, as its hormones will not drive it. Furthermore, spayed and neutered pets focus more on their human family and are less likely to run away or get lost.
6. Donate Money
Dog shelters often operate on tight budgets or no budgets at all. The expenses can quickly range from feeding the animals to maintaining the premises and providing the necessary medical care. Therefore, donating funds is one of the most straightforward ways to help keep the shelter running, directly improving the dogs’ lives.
Depending on your preference and budget, there are different ways to donate to a dog shelter. You can make a one-time donation or a monthly subscription. You can also donate by SMS.
Another way to donate to a dog shelter is to start a fundraising initiative on your social media. You can create a page or a post explaining why you want to help a dog shelter and how much money you wish to raise. You can also share stories, photos, or videos of the animals or shelter you want to support. You can then invite your followers to donate to your cause.
If you can’t support the shelters financially, you can always look around your home for some Supplies you can donate instead. In our next point, we will discuss more about the supplies your local shelter might need.
7. Donate Supplies
Dog shelters require a lot of materials to keep their facilities clean and comfortable and to meet the dogs’ basic and special needs. By donating supplies, you can lower the costs of the shelter and ensure that they have enough resources to look after the dogs.
The most wanted goods in the shelters are dog food (dry and wet), blankets for the winter, toys or everything from dog houses, water bowls, leashes, deworming tablets, dog beds, shampoo, refrigerators, washing machines, and cleaning products. These items can assist the shelter staff with their daily tasks and operations.
However, before you embark on a shopping spree, it’s a good idea to contact and ask about the specific needs of your local shelter. Each shelter may face unique challenges and might require different sets of goods. For example, a shelter that has just taken in a litter of puppies may need extra puppy food, while one dealing with the aftermath of a health outbreak could benefit from more health or cleaning supplies.
8. Transport Assistance
Dogs in a few shelters are fortunate enough to find themselves in new, loving homes, a joyous moment for the dog and its adoptive family. However, this transition often comes with logistical challenges that can provide opportunities for you to contribute.
The necessity for transport can arise due to numerous scenarios. Sometimes it is their big moving day. Other times these dogs need to be taken for regular check-ups by the vet to ensure they remain healthy and fit. Regardless, shelters can hugely benefit from your help as additional transportation because they frequently struggle to transport these animals. Providing a ride could make a significant difference. Your help could mean a dog receiving timely medical care or reaching their new loving home sooner.
Providing transportation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering giving back to your local shelter. Still, it is a key resource for sure. But even if you cannot transport a dog, you can still aid shelters by using your other skills.
9. Professional Skills
Ever thought about using your professional expertise for a good cause? Your unique expertise can be a vital asset to many dog shelters because sometimes they cannot afford to hire professionals for all their extra requirements.
For example, if your specialty lies in carpentry, consider volunteering your time to repair kennels, create dog toys, or build custom beds for the pups. Your skills could also be put to use by making modifications to the shelter to make the dogs’ lives easier or more efficient.
For those with veterinary backgrounds or skills, there are countless ways in which you could be of assistance. You could volunteer your time to give check-ups, administer vaccinations or treatments, or educate shelter staff on further health care for dogs. Your knowledge could save countless lives and improve the well-being of the animals significantly.
You can contribute with professional video or image shooting if you’re a Content Creator. Good-looking content always grabs the audience’s attention, and we know that cuteness in a shelter is guaranteed. So next time you’re looking to expand your portfolio, you might as well check if your local shelter might benefit from your skills.
If you’re a blogger, you can write an article promoting shelter work among your audience. This will give them more exposure, and you will certainly benefit by being an advocate of the good cause.
The shelters are, unfortunately, full of dogs with behavioral issues due to the lives they had to face before being rescued. If you’re a dog trainer, giving free training to dogs who need a special approach will be highly valued. The more trained, socialized, and calm a dog is – the better his chances for adoption.
And lastly, by offering services pro bono, you are helping the shelters and enhancing your experience and skills by facing unique challenges, further honing your abilities.
10. Foster a Dog
Fostering a dog is a charitable act that not only gives these canines a temporary home but also eases the load of the shelters. By choosing to foster, you’re actively contributing to the well-being of these animals and allowing the shelter to rescue more dogs from dire circumstances. But what does fostering involve?
Fostering a dog involves taking one of them into your home and caring for them until they can find a permanent family. This implies providing them with food, water, a safe place to sleep, and the vital social interaction and training they might need to thrive in their future forever home.
While the time commitment for fostering can vary, it usually involves a few weeks to several months, but your impact could last a lifetime.
Aside from the nobility of aiding a creature in need, fostering a dog brings numerous advantages for the foster. Caring for a dog can provide immense psychological benefits such as reduced stress, improved mood, and general well-being.
A foster dog can also bring a sense of companionship to a home, transforming it into a warm, welcoming environment. If you already have pets, a foster dog can provide your residents with a new playmate and enrich their lives.
Helping animals is a noble and rewarding act that can positively impact the lives of many.
Of course, these are just some of the ways you can contribute to solving the overpopulation of unwanted pets and improving their welfare. If you’re already helping dogs in need differently, we will be happy if you share your experience with us in the comments.