Alana here. I was driving along today and I was thinking about how I cannot, in my current living situation, adopt any more pets. I felt a little sad, but then I started thinking about all the things I CAN do to help out in the world of pet adoption. I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you in case you want to help, too, but are also unable to bring more pets into your home.
First, find your goal. Do you want to specifically help cats? Dogs? Kittens and puppies? Older animals? Find your passion and see if there’s something you can do in that specific niche. Narrowing it down makes it easier for you to pick a focus and you’re less like to get overwhelmed by the thought that there’s too much to do and only one of you. There are a surprising number of niche rescues out there that focus on certain breeds, older animals, injured animals, exotic animals, etc. My focus is on special needs. My second focus is on promoting proper nutrition. My overall goal is to help bring about a no-kill America. What’s your goal?
Working within that goal, here are some ideas for ways to take action:
1) Foster. Do you want to help care for pets but are unable to make a long-term commitment? Are you moving soon or are you a student? If you have a spare room in your house (even a bathroom will do), contact your local shelter and sign up to become a foster parent. Fosters are SO important to the adoption community because they offer emergency, temporary shelter to animals who might otherwise be euthanized due to lack of space. Imagine opening your home to six little kittens who want to snuggle, play, and nap all day. Commitments can range anywhere from 3 weeks and up, and you can determine what time frame you’re willing to commit to along with your shelter.
2) Volunteer to walk dogs. Do you love to walk dogs but you can’t have one in your apartment just now? Volunteer to be a dog walker. You and the dog will get to spend some time in the fresh air getting exercise.
3) Volunteer to socialize shy pets. Do you have a special knack for bringing shy kitties or other animals out of their shells? Volunteer to socialize. You don’t have to limit yourself to dogs and cats if you don’t wish to. I once spent a day socializing a mother rat and her five babies. With a few Cheerios and some patience, I had the mother sitting in my palm and the babies running up my arm in just one morning. Socialization volunteers are very important because they help ready pets for adoption, so if you’re good with shy animals, give it a try!
4) Help organize an adoption event. Shelters are often putting together adoption events or showcasing what they do at pet shows or other conventions. If you’re good at talking to people, volunteer to go out with the event and use your skills to talk about why your cause is important and offer information on how others can get involved, too.
5) Photograph for shelters. Many small shelters don’t have access to a nice camera or a good photographer. If you’re good at photography and want to build your portfolio, offer to take photos for a shelter. I’ve photographed for Tree House Humane and my work has ended up on their website and even in their 2009 calendar. Taking photos of their adoptable pets is also key so that every pet can put his/her best paw forward on their adoption profile.
6) Write. Do you have good writing skills? Do you have something to say? Then write! Who’s going to read what I’m writing, you might ask. Well, you’re reading what I’m writing right now, aren’t you? There are many different ways in which you can use your skills. If you have something to say on a specific topic, write an article and pitch it to a few bloggers or websites. Does your favorite shelter fall behind the others in the quality of their animal profiles? They’re probably so busy caring for the animals, that they don’t have time to write about them, so step in! Write letters to your local congressman or offer to help with shelter newsletters. Do you have A LOT to say? Become a blogger! The blogging community is very supportive and it’s amazing what they can help you with if you just ask.
6) Donate your art. Are you artistic? Perhaps you paint, draw, or sculpt. Offer to donate some of your arts to your local shelter charity event for auction or sale. Baking also counts as an art, so don’t overlook what you can offer to bake sales!
8) Social network. If you love to spend time on Facebook or Twitter, follow some of your favorite sites and help disseminate information for them. You can also volunteer to help them set up or run their social media pages.
8) Donate money or other items. If you don’t have time to do any of the above, you can always donate. Money is always helpful, but consider also donating your professional services directly to the shelter or for charity auction. You can also donate supplies. Do you have extra cat litter boxes or scoops? Sealed bags of treats you don’t need? Extra leashes? An old cat tree your kitty doesn’t use? Even coupons for litter or pet food are useful. Give them to your shelter! They’ll definitely appreciate it.
Has this inspired you to do something you didn’t think about doing before? Is there something I left off the list? Comment on it! I’d love to hear from you.