People who aren’t able to foster or adopt a shelter animal can most assuredly help in other ways! Here is a list of some alternative actions individuals and groups can do to help animals in need!

1. Shelters are always in need of blankets, towels and comforters that they can use as soft bedding for the kennels. Cold concrete floors are always given a boost when a fluffy comforter is provided to sleep on. Clean used articles are perfectly fine! They are new to the dogs that will sleep on them.

2. Enrichment toys are a bonus for many shelters – they aren’t typically budgeted into the operating funds so donated toys such as Kongs, Nylabones, Jolly Balls, and chew toys such as bully sticks, cow hooves or antlers are a welcomed relief for the dogs that receive them. Medium sized PVC “joints” are another great option and very inexpensive! They can be stuffed with peanut butter and treats for a tasty treat. The PVC holds up extremely well even for the tough chewers!

3. Jars of peanut butter! Simple “staple” in many home pantries! Peanut butter is a great “treat” to stuff Kongs and cow hooves with – and can even be frozen for added hours of enjoyment!

4. Sponsor the adoption fee of a long time (or older) resident of your local shelter. Even though financially, an adopter needs to be able to AFFORD an adoption fee, knowing that the dog or cat has the attention and spotlight of the shelter staff and volunteers may drive more people to consider adopting that particular animal. Visibility is always the key task to accomplish. Long timers and older animals have the added sponsorship to boost their popularity.

5. Are your children involved with Boy/Girl Scouts or other community oriented organizations? Church youth group? Key Club at school? How about organizing a shelter drive and make a wish list of items people can donate! Select an end date and deliver all of the goodies to the shelter – take pictures and post in newsletters and hopefully the shelter’s website or social media page. Sparking others to join in on the fun is a great way to help! Other groups may want help out as a result.

6. Some animals come to the shelter with allergies to certain foods. Food allergies usually reveal themselves with skin issues (rashes, bald spots, etc). When this happens, and the staff has the resources to treat the animals via a change in diet, having specialty foods on hand is extremely beneficial. Donate a bag of grain free food or limited diet food to your shelter. Helping the animals feel and look healthy will help boost their adoptability.

7. Are you a photographer? Amateur? Professional? Getting great photos of the dogs and cats in the shelters is a HUGE bonus. The term “first impressions are everything” rings true in this case. People may not see a dog or cat for the first time AT a shelter facility. They may be searching adoption pages such as Petfinder or Rescueme. A beautiful photo of an adoptable animal can be what makes someone get in their car and head to the shelter to see them in person.

8. Do you love to drive? How about volunteering to transport animals to area rescues! Lots of times rescues that offer to take dogs or cats from open intake shelters into their organization, they may not super close to that facility. Transportation volunteers are needed. Arrangements for transport are coordinated between the rescue and the shelter and sometimes broken up into “legs”. Sometimes the whole trip is needed. If driving is your things crank up the tunes and take a pup or a cat to their new digs!

9. Volunteer at your local shelter! There are so many aspects a volunteer can take part in. If dogs aren’t your thing, the kitties will appreciate your time! If you are worried about being upset about seeing animals in the shelter, you can offer to wash dishes, do laundry or maybe even help out in their office running copies, or taking messages off of the voicemail system. Simply being a pleasant face for potential adopters as a shelter greeter is a great way to start the process of an adoption. Showing potential adopters where they can go to see the dogs or cats and supplying them with information such as where applications can be found is a huge deal! Lots of times staff is hands on with the animals and office staff is always busy. If walking dogs IS your thing, they’d love to see a friendly face taking them for a stroll in a play yard or around the facility. If cats are your preference, there are opportunities to play and interact with them as well. Google your local shelters and be proactive. Make some calls or check out their websites. They offer lots of ways people can volunteer.