Just because you cannot take another animal home does not mean that you should just walk away. If you do turn a blind eye, you become part of the problem, when in reality you NEED to be part of the solution!
Do you drive a car?
Volunteer to transport shelter animals to new homes, new rescues, or to veterinary appointments. You might be surprised to discover how often this need arises. Consult with your tax consultant, the miles you travel in support of a non-profit shelter may be tax deductible!
Transport coordinators are in extreme demand! If your weekends are quiet and you have a computer, this may be the job for you! A future blog will discuss this job in more detail.
Do you sew?
Ask if your shelter needs blankets or beds sewn. Perhaps you can sew little signs for the adoptable pets to wear in parades or at adoption events that say "adopt me" for the dogs to wear. Perhaps your blankets could be sold as a fundraiser for the shelter. Old fleece pullovers from goodwill can easily be sewn into cushy beds for pets, and it is a way of recycling! Just cut off the sleeves, stuff the body of the pullover, and sew the neck, sleeve, and waist openings and you have created an easily washable and comfortable pet bed.
If you don't sew, fleece and fleece remnants from sewing stores, make GREAT bedding for homeless pets!
Do you bake?
Hold a bake sale to benefit the shelter. Ask your friends and family to participate. Shelter volunteers LOVE the leftovers too!
Do you shop?
Ask the shelter for a list of items of which they are in greatest need. Many of the items are inexpensive, but they go through them very quickly, so each small donation helps in a big way. Bleach, ping pong balls for cat toys, fleece remnants, paper towels, cat litter, copy paper, etc. Just $5.50 can buy over 40 lbs of clay cat litter at Walmart! Hit second hand stores for old towels, fleece, and other bedding materials. They will often have inexpensive used pet carriers and cages as well.
Can you spare a few hours during the week?
Volunteer to walk dogs or clean kennels or man a booth at an adoption event. You do not have to be there every day. Just think, if seven people did commit to once a week, it would be an amazing show of support to your shelter.
Are you afraid to be doing hands on work with the animals because you don't want to risk falling in love, only to see that animal go home with someone other than you? Then assist by washing dishes and litter boxes, doing laundry, cleaning floors, pooper scooping their play yard. These tasks will win you a volunteer appreciation award for sure! So many people want to come play with the animals, not realizing that their assistance is desperately needed throughout the shelter. No one said volunteering would be easy, but the friends you make just might make it fun.
Do you like to hold social events?
Hold a party at your house as a fundraiser! Many "home party" sales groups do fundraisers, such as Scentsy Flameless Candles.
Not comfortable asking friends over to buy "stuff"? Invite friends or family over for snacks and a movie, a cookout, or for the big game. Ask them to bring a "donatable" item for the animals in your shelter as an admission ticket to the party. Provide them with a list of what the shelter needs? Then enjoy your evening.
Some restaurants, such as Pizza Ranch, have fundraising opportunities in which you and some friends bus tables for a few hours, and all tips go to the group of your choice! This is great for earning funds, and for making people aware of the needs of your local shelter.
Do you have too much stuff in your house?
Donate anything that the shelter can use to the shelter. Your shelter should be able to provide you with a wish list. These items might include old towels, sheets, blankets, fleece, old dog collars, leashes, pet bowls, baby pack-n-plays/ play pens, pet carriers or crates, ping pong balls, tennis balls. Then hold a yard sale with some friends and donate the proceeds. Your house is now clean, you have recycled, AND you have helped your shelter!
Do you work in a large corporation?
Have your workplace encourage donations to the shelter by starting a collection! The business can actually do this monthly for different causes, IE animal shelter one month, womens shelter the next, etc. If each employee brings in a can of cat food, or a roll of paper towels, while it is not a lot for a single person to spend, the collection will grow and the shelter and it's animals will be very grateful.
Do you like to craft?
Create some cute craft items for the shelter to sell in their entry way or at events.
Do you like to scrapbook?
Create a scrapbook of adopted animals for the shelter to show at events. This may also help them get through difficult times by showing them how much they have succeeded in doing for so many animals. Working or volunteering can take an emotional toll. This type of gift can be very rewarding!
Do you work with kids?
If you work with kids, have the kids volunteer or fund raise. A t-shirt sale or a scavenger hunt for items the shelter uses IE cat litter, pet food, paper towels, etc. is a fun way to involve kids of all ages. Kids can make posters to hang around town with photos of adoptable pets. Kids can make "adopt me" outfits for dogs using felt cloth and glue, or hand sewn depending on their ages. This not only helps the shelter but teaches the children about responsibility.
Do you enjoy taking photographs?
You do not need an expensive camera to do this! You can take and share photos of their adoptable pets. Perhaps your photos will be so good, they will use them on their website! Let your photos show off the pet's personality! A good photo is key to getting a homeless animal noticed. A photo of the animal in it's kennel at the shelter, behind bars, does not show off the adoptable nature of that animal. Let your lens be the eye of the potential adopter! Show the animals off in a new light!
Do you know your way around computers?
Helping a small shelter with their website updates, or helping them design a website is a great way to offer your assistance. I can spay a cat, but don't ask me to design a website!
So you cannot adopt, but...
Perhaps you are good at housebreaking or teaching dogs about manners IE sit, stay, come, fetch? Perhaps you can temporarily add another cat to the house, but you are not comfortable adding another pet on a permanent basis? FOSTER! When you foster a pet, you are not just helping that pet. You are opening a cage up for another pet in need of help!
Do you Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter?
SHARE your shelter's pets on your page! If your shelter works with Petfinder.com, Petfinder has links on the side of each adoptable pet's photograph to share on these social networking sites! Click those links! Wouldn't it feel GREAT to be the one who shared a photo that united a homeless pet and it's new family?
If you have a local consignment shop, ask the shelter's permission for setting up an account for the under the shelter's name at the consignment shop. Make people aware that they can donate their items to benefit the shelter at this consignment shop. Spread the word with fliers, social networking, emails, etc., all inexpensive ways to share the news. Place a sign in the store letting shoppers and consigners know about the shop's support of the shelter. The shop should appreciate the free publicity they get from participating, and again, your shelter gains support!
The point is, you don't need a lot of time or money or a special degree to be instrumental in helping to save an animal's life. You just need to decide to help. You can make a change, so become active and encourage your friends to do so. No more turning your back, covering your eyes, or feeling helpless. You have nothing to lose, and homeless pets have so much to gain from you, so GET GOING!
(If you have more suggestions for ways people can help their shelter while on a budget, submit them to me and I will add them!
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