The holiday season is upon us, and regardless of what you celebrate this time of year, many of us look to help those less fortunate when the season rolls around each December. Not that help isn’t needed all year round, but, for many of us, the cold weather and Peace On Earth goodwill spurs us into action.
Short of adopting, there are many things that you can do to help the many homeless pets in your area.
- Donate supplies to a local rescue. As the weather turns colder, many animals in shelters are in need of warm blankets and beds to keep them off cold concrete floors. Supplies such as latex gloves, bleach, and food are always in need. Some shelters will post requested items on their Facebook or webpages. Sometimes donations of special veterinary food are requested for a dog with specific dietary needs.
- Volunteer to walk dogs at a shelter. We all know how busy the holidays can be, and numbers of volunteers may drop off during this time. Dogs are much better able to handle their time in shelters if they are provided regular exercise and time out of a kennel. Regular opportunity to socialize is also very important to maintain emotional health and calm temperament.
- Participate in fundraisers. My local SPCA operates a gift wrapping station at the mall for the month leading up to Christmas. Make use of services such as this, and leave a nice donation for the animals in their care.
- When shopping for the person who has everything (and we all have someone like that on our list), sponsor a dog at your local rescue or shelter. A certificate will be provided to you to pass on to your loved-one to say that a donation has been made in their name, and you get to help save a precious life.
- Consider fostering a dog over the holidays. Depending on where you live, and the resources available to shelters and rescues, there may be fewer regular volunteers to help with caring for animals during the holidays. During festive times, families may be less likely to be able to care for dogs in their homes. Many rescues do not have a shelter facility, and rely solely on fosters to care for the dogs that they save. If you can welcome a dog into your life for a few weeks, you will not only have the joy of canine companionship, you will know that you are actually saving a life. Most fosters are not required to pay for food or supplies, those costs are covered by the rescue or organization.
- Share adoption profiles on social media. Someone you know may be looking for the perfect pet, and you may inadvertently find it for them.
- Offer to transport animals for s shelter or rescue organization. Some organizations may have difficulty getting animals to and from vet appointments, to other rescue organizations, or delivered to potential adopters. If you have a vehicle, and a valid driving license, you can help a pet in need.
- Donate your professional services – your skills may be of use to a rescue organization or shelter. Lawyers, accountants, handymen (and handy-women), dog trainers, groomers, photographers, social media experts, web developers, etc., etc., etc. can all provide valuable services to shelters. By donating some of your time, money is freed up to care for more animals.
- Fund-raise, or gather donations. A good friend of mine used to host a large party every December. Guests were asked to bring a donation for a local animal shelter (food, dog toys, etc.).
- Get creative. Any idea that you have that can benefit local homeless animals is likely to be welcomed by shelters and rescues in your community. Share your ideas, and share the knowledge that you have about animals in need of homes with anyone who will listen.
Adopting a dog as a gift for someone else is often not a good idea, and adding a pet to your family during the holidays requires thoughtful planning, and should not be done on a whim. BUT…if you are ready to adopt, what better gift to give a dog than the gift of family!