“Rescue Me” is a recurring column by Samantha Randall, editor-in-chief at Top Dog Tips. She’ll provide personal anecdotes and perspective about her life as a pet lover with a passion for cat and dog rescue. Today, she’ll offer creative and/or overlooked “gifts” you can give your local shelter this holiday season.
It’s the season of goodwill and gift-giving! People look forward to the holidays as a time to celebrate with loved ones. Have you ever considered adding rescue animals to your list this year? Even the smallest gesture that helps these animals in need can go a long way. Here are 10 things you can do for your local rescues and their pets:
1. Share stories and posts from pet rescue centers on social media
This is the easiest thing you can do to help your local rescue group and the pets who temporarily live there. You’ll help raise awareness about the shelters and promote pet adoption when you share stories and posts from their social media pages (and many shelters update those daily!) Remind your friends and family about the reasons for rescuing a dog or a cat this season.
The power of social media has benefited many pets in shelters because it’s a very popular way of finding a match. You might have a friend on your contact list who could be looking for a pet, or you might convince people on your list to adopt instead of shopping at a pet store. Go ahead and keep sharing those posts.
2. Donate to the rescue group
Shelters are almost always nonprofit and heavily rely on donations from the public to feed, treat and take care of their dogs and cats. This holiday, you can check out the clearance sections at the supermarket and grocery stores to get discounted deals on toys, food and other pet supplies rescue animals need.
Or an even better option is to check the shelter’s website for donation details as there’s usually information on how you can donate money. They might also have a list of the things they need that aren’t pet specific, like towels, mops, pillows and old chairs or sofas.
3. Report lost or stray pets
Don’t turn a blind eye on lost or stray pets you encounter in the streets. Report them to the local rescue group right away. If possible, always keep an extra collar and leash in your car so that you can possibly control the pet until the rescue group arrives. That said, be careful when handling stray animals since they could get defensive and scared.
It’s often a terrible scenario for the owners who are trying to find missing dogs, so take time to read lost pet signs in your neighborhood. Be on the lookout for these pets and help an animal find its way back home or at least to the shelter. There can be a spike of lost dogs or cats because of the chaos surrounding holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, according to reports like this.
4. Purchase holiday gifts from stores that support animal rescues
When you’re shopping for Christmas presents, consider looking at animal rescue merchandise first. You might find items for the animal lover among your family or friends from these stores. But if you’re shopping at e-commerce stores like Amazon, check for an option that allocates a portion of your purchase to an animal rescue group (you can also automatically set for 2 percent to go to an animal charity of your choice).
5. Gift food for shelter workers to enjoy
People mostly donate goods for the pets, but shelter workers will appreciate if you give something for them as well, such as packed lunches, coffee and donuts, baked goodies and other treats for the humans to enjoy for their hard, unpaid work. These people work to give shelter pets a decent place until they find a forever home.
6. Consider setting up a pet food pantry in your church, school or community center
Entice other people in your community to share their generosity with the animals this holiday season. Set up a pantry where they can deposit canned goods, packed foods, dog treats and toys, and other items for pets which you can bring to the animal shelter.
7. Volunteer at the shelter
Give your gift of time and presence this holiday by volunteering. Offer to walk the dogs, take them to the groomers, or relieve the workers at times during the holiday season. You can also help with the daily administrative work, clean up and tend to the pets’ needs and training.
Share your special skills as well to help with pet adoption. For instance, if you have skills in photography, then offer to take portraits of the pets so they can have great-looking profiles on the shelter’s website or social media pages. If you’re skillful in marketing, perhaps you can organize an adoption event or a fund drive in your community.
8. Foster or adopt a shelter pet
Of course, the best thing you can do for local rescues and the pets is to bring one or two home with you. Foster a pet for the holidays to help reduce the crowding at shelters. But if you want to take it a step further, adopt a dog or cat to live with you forever.
Bear in mind that having an extra pet at home is a big responsibility and a commitment that you should prepare for. Only do this if you’re really ready and have the space for a new addition to your family.
9. Offer your home for hospice care
There are sick and senior pets that won’t thrive well in the shelter. Open your door to provide hospice care for these animals, especially senior or disabled pets who have the lowest rate of adoption.
10. Get your kids involved
You’ll teach your children the value of compassion and responsibility this holiday if you also involve them in your efforts to help rescue animals and the shelters that take them in. The kids might be too young to volunteer or donate, but you can help raise their awareness by taking them with you during adoption events or fund drives, or by visiting the animals at the shelter.
Embrace the spirit of the giving season by following some of these suggestions. You’re not only going to make a big difference for shelter pets, but you’ll also feel great and fulfilled about doing something good for your community. What a way to make this year memorable!