It’s often sad to think about the many homeless animals sitting in animal shelters waiting to be adopted, especially if you have a full house and cannot give a new pet a forever home! However, there are things you can do from the comfort of your own home to help animal shelters and make a difference in the lives of homeless cats and dogs!
For example, did you know that you can create blankets and beds out of scraps of fabric? Often, you don’t even need to know how to sew to do this! There are no-sew patterns available for those of us who are less than crafty!
Another clever way you can help animal shelters is to bake dog or cat treats from home and take them to your local animal shelter to some very excited fur babies!
No matter what skill you have under your belt, there is a way that you can make a difference at an animal shelter! You just have to be a little creative by thinking outside of the box or by reading this article for more ideas on how you can help animal shelters using your unique talents!
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How Do Animals End Up in Animal Shelters?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 6.5 million animals enter animal shelters each year in the United States.
Of those dogs and cats, approximately 1.5 million are euthanized, 3.2 million are adopted by new pet owners, and 710,000 are returned to their owners.
Those that end up in animal shelters include (1) homeless animals, (2) stray animals, and (3) surrendered homeless pets.
- Homeless animals, like dogs and cats, are often picked up by Animal Control and brought to animal shelters to be cared for properly. The number of homeless animals is growing because they are not properly spayed and neutered, which, if they were, would help control the population of these homeless animals.
- It is estimated that there are more than 70 million stray animals in the United States. Stray animals are usually found by good Samaritans or local law enforcement. They may have been abused or forced to participate in illegal sporting events, such as dog fighting rings. These animals require special care and attention from animal shelters.
- Surrendered pets are given to shelters by pet owners who can no longer take care of them. Usually, these pets are given away because of financial reasons, behavioral concerns, or other unforeseen barriers. Some were surrendered because the owners did not expect the pets to grow to be as big as they became!
How to Help Animal Shelters with Your Unique Talents
1. Declutter and donate unused belongings to animal shelters.
If you’re skilled at decluttering and organizing, you might be able to find pet treasures in your home!
According to Dogtime, the best things to donate to animal shelters depend on your local shelter. You’ll want to talk to them before making any donation, but you could go through your home and start getting some items ready if you think they will accept them.
Decluttering your home for homeless animals is a great idea!
This list is not all-inclusive, but it should give you a good start on what is needed for animal care.
- Pet Toys (rope toys and balls are popular)
- Bedding & Linens (towels, sheets, and blankets are needed)
- Pet Food or Treats
- Cat Litter
- Leashes, Harnesses, or Collars
- Organization & Cleaning Supplies (paper towels, storage bins, garbage bags, Ziplock bags, spray bottles, and newspapers)
- Office Supplies (pens, pencils, folders, notebooks, paper, electronics, and batteries)
- Metal Crates & Carriers
- Pet Furniture
Some shelters also list craft supplies as something needed for those who make homemade items for shelter animals, but you’d have to make sure your local animal shelter or rescue supported those charities before dropping off a bag of craft supplies.
The Humane Society suggests that you get crafty and creative and make cage curtains or “Adopt Me” vests. These vests will spotlight available pets showcased at adoption events. The cage curtains will give some cats and dogs privacy, which will also help them stay healthy! If an infection breaks out at a shelter, most of the animals catch it!
Remember that when you drop off your belongings, if the shelter doesn’t take the items, you are just giving them more work to do because they’ll have to take these items to the right place, so don’t treat animal shelters like a donation drop-off for all your unwanted belongings!
2. Spread the word about what animal shelters need.
If you have a bubbly personality, here is where you can shine! Grab the attention of the media and let them know what help is needed at your local animal shelter. One way to do this is to talk to your employer and suggest a program at the office where employees can donate pet supplies or money to this worthy cause.
If you are well-organized and responsible, you could organize the fundraising/charity opportunity for your employer and do all the work so that it would be easy for employees to donate items, funds, or even their time to help animal shelters. You could create a sign-up sheet for volunteers who wish to make more of an impact at animal shelters.
Another opportunity available is social media, your local television or radio station, or even a newspaper or magazine. You could spread the news and advertise the animals that need to be adopted, showing cute pictures of them and what is needed as help at your local animal shelter. Sometimes, just a simple Facebook post will do the trick!
To reach even more people, consider going to your local pet shops and hanging up flyers with photos of homeless pets that need to be adopted in the community. Also, don’t forget to ask friends and family members if they are in need of a new fur baby in their lives or wish to foster one temporarily!
Saving the life of a rescue pet can be such a rewarding experience!
3. Volunteer your time and expertise to animal shelters.
There are so many ways you can get involved at an animal shelter! Most animal shelters really need help and if you have skills or expertise, use your talents to help where you are needed the most: Here are a few ideas!
- Clean cages or kennels out.
- Offer administrative help (answering phones or doing paperwork).
- Feed the homeless dogs and cats and those about to be adopted.
- Walk dogs, play with all animals, give lots of petting, and/or train the animals.
- Host, plan, help with, and/or manage an adoption event.
- Help raise funds for adoption events through car washes or races!
- Give the homeless pets a good bath!
- Take photos of the animals that need to be adopted.
- Assist new owners in adopting animals and getting the right veterinary care.
- Give the animals lots of love and attention (Petting animals is a must!)!
- Build or maintain a website for the animal shelter.
- Write for the blog on an animal shelter or animal rescue website.
- Help with the spaying and neutering of the animals.
- Transport animals to and from the animal shelter.
- Perform general but necessary cleaning and maintenance at the animal shelter.
4. Bake cat or dog treats or cookies for your local animal shelters.
If you are talented in the kitchen or even just know your way around a little bit, you can make dog and/or cat treats from the comfort of your own home! Just find some great recipes that they will love and are allowed to enjoy (Call your local animal shelter to see if they allow this) and get to baking!!
Taste of Home has a valuable article with 9 dog treat recipes, including classic dog biscuits, carrot peanut butter “pupcakes,” and breath-freshening treats. That last one should come in handy when it’s time for love and cuddling by potential owners!
The Cookie Rookie also has many pet treat recipes available! This recipe for three-ingredient salmon cat treats only takes 40 minutes to make and is both easy and affordable for the baker in your family. What a fun activity to involve the kids in!
Once complete, you can take a bunch of delicious treats, cookies, or biscuits to some worthy recipients who will love and appreciate you forever! You can make new best friends by just dropping off delicious goodies – a treat many of these animals may have never gotten to enjoy in their entire shelter lifetime!
5. Host a fundraising event to donate funds to animal shelters.
If you are a social creature, this is where you could use your talent to help animal shelters! Host a neighborhood “pet adoption drive” where you collect pet toys, collars, leashes, and other essential potential pet items.
Have people donate money to a worthy animal cause in exchange for homemade goodies. For example, you could hold a bake sale or have your kids have a lemonade stand this summer, where the proceeds all go to animal shelters or rescue groups.
Another spin on this idea is to have a neighborhood party, block garage sale, or event, where all the proceeds go to helping animal shelters with funding and/or other essential expenses.
If you are involved in the PTA (the National Parent Teacher Association) at your child’s school, you could hold a fundraiser or bake sale on behalf of a worthy animal cause.
If you have the passion and ability to host events or use your social talents to get things done, use these skills to help animal shelters!
Use your connections and personality to make things happen!
6. Educate children about the importance of responsible animal care.
If you don’t have children with pets and thus are unable to teach them the importance of responsible pet ownership, there are certainly other ways you can make a difference in this area.
Many schools will allow speakers to give speeches during assemblies or announcements. You might also be able to talk at an event or fundraiser. Many schools welcome speakers who will take the time to educate students about things not typically taught in school classes.
Teach children about what animal shelters do, how to take care of their pets in a responsible manner, and how they can get involved at animal shelters to make a difference.
Many shelters or rescue organizations allow children to volunteer, provided they are of a certain age or a parent or guardian is present.
7. Help animal shelters by taking care of your pets.
Probably one of the easiest ways to help animal shelters is to not add to their overpopulation problem. Take care of your pets by getting them fitted with microchips. This is an inexpensive way to help keep track of your pets and keep them from being adopted or worse! Give them a loving home, too, with lots of TLC!
Make sure your pets are also spayed and/or neutered! You might also have a pet trust or emergency plan in place in the event something were to happen to you. That way, your loved ones would know exactly what to do with your precious fur baby to give it the best care possible.
Pet insurance is also a consideration that should be made. Pet emergencies can be quite expensive if you have not planned for them in advance. It’s a smart idea to already have a plan in place before an accident or emergency of some kind occurs.
8. Create crafts using skills to help your local animal shelters.
Creating Pet Furniture
If you are handy or crafty in any way, you can make a difference at an animal shelter.
One thing you can do is create animal furniture. For example, cat trees or scratching posts can easily be made with the right wood and some cheap pieces of carpet. Just about anyone who has access to these materials can make this kind of pet furniture.
This video from Home Depot shows how to build a DIY cat tree using simple supplies and equipment. It might be a little big for an animal shelter, but you can make adjustments to the size, or the animal shelter may be able to include it in a group play area, where many cats can enjoy it!
If you are a little more experienced when it comes to woodcraft, you can make a dog house by putting together some pieces of wood or even repurposing some old furniture items.
The Spruce Pets shows how you can easily make 16 dog houses, including kennels and repurposed household furniture. Get creative and design your own animal sanctuary.
A homeless puppy or dog would love to call your creation their new home at the animal shelter as they wait for the day they find their forever home in someone’s heart!
Creating Pet Bedding
If you are handy with needlework, knitting, crocheting, sewing, or crafty in another way, you could easily put together a blanket, bed, or pillow for a kitten, cat, dog, puppy, or other potential pet.
This would give them a comfy place to rest until they find their adoptive parents! Plus, staying somewhere adorable makes them look even cuter to adoptive folks!
The Snuggles Project specializes in making sure animals at shelters and rescues have a comfy spot to lay on. In this article, you’ll find free patterns and other easy ways you can get involved! You don’t even have to know how to sew to make a blanket! That’s right; there are no-sew patterns available!!
9. Write letters of appreciation to animal shelters or animal rescues.
Many workers at animal shelters are volunteers who devote a lot of time and energy to taking care of homeless cats and dogs. Sending a thank-you note could make all the difference in the world to these workers, who may not often see much appreciation.
Show them they are valued members of society by sending a letter of care!
Not sure what to say? Check out my articles on writing letters of appreciation to different people for inspiration.
- How to Start Writing Soldiers Letters of Appreciation
- How to Write a Soldier a Letter of Encouragement
- Encouraging Words for Someone in Jail
- Letters of Encouragement for Prisoners
- How to Write a Letter to Someone in Jail
These resources should give you the motivation and inspiration to write some stellar thank-you notes to animal care workers!
10. Share love through pet adoption or foster care!
Of course, this may be the most obvious one of the bunch, but it must be included in this list for it to be complete! If you don’t have room for more precious fur babies, consider fostering a pregnant cat or dog and giving the babies care until they can be adopted.
Many animal shelters need help with pregnant rescue animals. Plus, who doesn’t love caring for young pets? They are so impressionable; you can truly benefit from an animal companion, even if it is only for a short while.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Animal Shelters Take Used Blankets?
Most animal shelters will accept donations of blankets, but please contact your local animal shelter or animal care center to determine what their needs are. Talking to them is also the best way to learn how to volunteer at an animal shelter near you; get to know the workers and what they do!
What Do Animal Shelters Need the Most?
Volunteers are probably the number one thing that animal shelters are in need of. Plus, adoptive homes are needed! Animal shelters are often underfunded and understaffed, so contact your local shelter or a local dog or cat rescue to see how you can best be of help, or open your home and adopt a pet!
How Can We Help Animal Shelters At Home?
There are many ways you can help animal shelters from home. If you have woodworking talents or craft skills, you can make pet furniture or beds, blankets, or other necessary items. If you’re skilled in the kitchen, consider baking some delicious doggie or kitty treats or biscuits for the homeless pets.
What is the Best Animal Rescue to Donate to?
If you would like to do volunteer work or donate items to an animal rescue, the best place to check with is your local animal shelter. They usually have insight on where you can make the biggest difference and what items are needed by homeless cats and dogs at various locations.
Do Animal Shelters Take Pillows?
Many animal shelters accept the donation of pillows so that homeless cats and dogs do not have to wait for their new parents on the cold floor. Please note that each animal shelter is different, so double-check with them before making any donations, but more often than not, pillows are welcome additions to animal shelters.
If you are ready to help animal shelters using your unique talents, I hope this article gave you some great ideas on how to best do this! If you have other ideas, we’d love to hear them as well!
Whether you are a crafter, woodworker, baker, teacher, parent, animal lover, or have another talent, you can get involved today in the great work that many animal shelters are doing!
How will you best help animal shelters? In your opinion, how can someone use their talents to help animal shelters or pet rescue groups?
Please leave a comment and share on social media!