4 Ways to Help a Pet Rescue or Shelter

April is the ASPCA’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.  We at Petnet want to show our support for this important issue by publishing a piece about animal rescues and shelters. This is not to say that pets in rescues are, or have been, treated cruelly (although many of these pets have been abandoned or have come from bad situations).   Rather, we would like to point out that there are many great pets available who are looking for permanent homes and one of the best ways to fight animal cruelty is by showing support and kindness to those in need.

Number of Dogs and Cats in Shelters

Our rescues and shelters do amazing work with limited resources and a growing number of dogs, cats, and other pets needing homes.  According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), there are 6-8 million dogs and cats placed in shelters and rescues each year, of which 3-4 million are euthanized! As bad as that sounds, it is actually indicative of great progress.  The HSUS reports that in the 1970s, almost 25% of all dogs and cats in the U.S. were euthanized compared to only 3 % today.

Still, there are far too many dogs and cats that are homeless and in the ‘system’, that are deserving of a home.  I have personally made it a point to adopt or foster dogs.  My last four dogs were rescues: Tino, Becca, Jack, and Maggie.  They are (or were) wonderful companions that have provided great friendship and a lot of laughs over the years.

How we can help our homeless pets

There are so many ways to help your local shelter or rescue.  Here is a list of our top 4 ways that you can make a difference and help pets in need.

  1. Donate money.  Taking care of homeless pets costs money.  According to USA Today, it costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated $2 billion each year to round up, house, kill, and dispose of homeless animals.  Do what you can and make a donation to a local rescue or shelter.  Every little bit helps.
  2. Donate food, toys, blankets, and beds.  Another great way to help is to donate goods.  Donating food, toys, leashes, or other pet supplies can really help rescues and shelters.  After all, they will need to buy these things anyway.
  3. Donate time.  Even if you are on a budget, you can donate your time and help these organizations in a meaningful way.  For example, volunteer to help out at adoption events, answer phones, or with customer service.  I have helped by volunteering as a ‘designated runner’, whereby I would run or otherwise exercise foster dogs in need of exercise.  You would be amazed at how much this helped!  In several cases, the extra exercise not only helped with the dog’s weight, but it also improved their mood and overall behavior (So much so that there was a noticeable improvement in the dogs adoption rates!).
  4. Choose to adopt instead of buy a new pet.  This is a big one.  With all of these homeless pets available, it is important that families looking to add a pet to their household at least consider adoption.   Looking for a specific breed?  No problem, there are breed specific rescues in most areas that will likely have what you are looking for. Prefer a puppy or kitten? Many rescues have dogs and cats of all ages.  All you have to do is contact your local rescue or shelter and ask!

No matter how you choose to help, know that your assistance can and will make a difference.  Help prevent cruelty through acts of kindness.