(Almost) 50 Ways to Help Homeless Pets in your Community


Be a responsible pet parent
Microchip your companions, update pet identification tags, spay/neuter, keep them safe and healthy, and choose to adopt a pet only if you plan to care for them for the remainder of their lives. When you commit to your own pets for the duration of their natural life, you are setting an example to others.

Encourage adoption, fostering and volunteering
It’s free, it’s simple and anyone can do it. Do you share your home with a rescue pet? Share your story when you meet other pet lovers and encourage them to adopt, too. Share photos of your rescue pet on social media and share posts of local adoptable pets at your shelter/rescue groups. Help spread the word. This simple action can go a long way!

Know the facts
Educate yourself on the issues of pet homelessness in your city or county. Dog and cat overpopulation is a sad fact of life in our society. Millions of cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals have no place to call home. Get the national statistics from the ASPCA.

Get to know your county’s shelters, and it’s placement partners
Your local open-admission facility will accept every animal that enters the facility regardless of age, health issues, behavioral problems, or breed. Placement partners rescue animals from those county shelters providing more space. Honor the enormous effort put forth by both the staff and volunteers of these programs by supporting the difficult work they do.

Find your local Animal Services’ information and trust the officers
Animal Control officers are your friend! If you see a loose animal, never try to capture him or her yourself. Stray, lost and feral animals can be dangerous, and Animal Control officers are trained to handle them and know what to do if something goes wrong.

Support spay and neuter programs
Spay and neuter is a proven way to reduce pet overpopulation, If you already spay/neuter your companions, then consider sponsoring the spay/neuter of a cat or dog in your community, donating needed supplies, or simply by making a monetary donation. SNAP-NC is a nonprofit organization providing high quality, low-cost spay-neuter surgeries for pets belonging to North Carolina families in need.

Know the facts about puppy mills
Puppy mills are inhumane commercial dog breeding facilities that may sell puppies in pet stores, online or directly to the public (in flea markets or via classified ads). The Human Society has the most up-to-date stats.

Now get tough on puppy mills
Contact your legislators and let them know that you’re concerned about the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills and want the puppy mill issue to be a priority. Human Society Legislative Endorsement Fund is a good place to check  is a good place to start.

Support pet sale bans
Many cities are implementing legislation to ban the sale of dogs (and cats) in pet stores. This goes a long way to not only stop puppy mills, but to help dogs in shelters get adopted. Here is a list of cities by state who have passed legislation. Don’t see your city or state? You can volunteer to spearhead a campaign or, help an existing one reach its goal.

Adopt, don’t shop
Actually, you can shop all you want at Petfinder.com.

Be a cat-vocate
Join a local cat initiative to stabilize overpopulation by promoting trap neuter return (TNR) and colony management for feral cats and practicing responsible pet guardianship.

IAR and SNAP have more info.

Donate humane traps for TNR management of feral cat colonies
Donate a new humane trap to your local cat rescue/feral cat T.N.R. (trap/neuter/release) group. The donation of a new trap can help the group spay/neuter more cats and save more lives.

Build a fence
Beyond Fences improves the welfare of dogs living in underserved communities as well as dogs continuously chained outdoors by offering information and free services including wellness care, spay/neuter, vaccinations, shelter intervention, and fences. They’ll take your sweat, your money, or promotion.

Fund a rescue group
Besides animal shelters, there are groups that rescue dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and other small pets that are breed or issue-specific. Shelters and rescue groups are essential in the long term care of animals. By funding animal rescue groups, you can help homeless pets by providing them with needed veterinary care and supplies during their journey to adoption.

Foster a relationship
Fostering a shelter pet can make a big difference. For some pets, it’s the environment they need to come out of their shell and learn some skills that will make them more adoptable. Being a foster parent also frees up precious space in rescues and shelters for more dogs and cats.

Sponsor a pet
Contribute to the care of a shelter dog or cat waiting for their forever home. The adoption fee covers vaccinations, spay/neuter, parasite treatment, microchip along with food, shelter, and comfort.

Donate to a work match program
Does your employer offer a donation match program? Many employers will match any donation you make to a non-profit charity. For example, if you donate $50 to your favorite charity, if your employer offers a match program, they will donate another $50. Therefore, your contribution to the charity totals $100 with you only paying $50! Check with your company today to see if they offer such a program.

Donate money to your local rescue group or shelter
Setting up a monthly donation to [your organization of choice] allows them to focus more resources on lifesaving programs, and less on fundraising. 

Donate items to your local shelter
Ours frequently need dog and cat supplies, blankets, towels, wash clothes, office supplies, hot dogs, etc. Ask your shelter what they need most. And don’t forget delicious treats for the staff. They work so hard.

Donate Kuranda beds and cat towers
Donate a Kuranda cat bed/tower to an animal shelter/rescue, to provide comfort to adoptable cats waiting and hoping to find forever homes. Click here to learn how.

Write a press release or op-ed.
Write a press release to your local newspaper and/or animal-related blogs. Tell your community why it’s important to adopt pets from the animal shelter and animal rescues. Tell your community why it’s important to spay and neuter and where to find local affordable options.

Amazon Smile
Use Smile.Amazon.com and sign up to support your favorite animal rescue/shelter. It’s totally free and once you sign up, every time you use SMILE.AMAZON and make a purchase, Amazon will donate to the charity.

Walk a shelter dog
Become a volunteer and visit your local animal shelter once a week or on a regular basis that works for you. Walk a few of the dogs on a leash outside, let them get fresh air, pet them, talk to them, play with them, and give them attention. This is a great way for you to give back to the community. It’s also a great way for you to get outside, exercise, and enjoy the fresh air. You’ll be making a huge difference for the dogs who sit in cages/kennels all day, waiting and hoping for attention.

Pet a shelter cat
Set a day and time each week to volunteer at your local animal shelter for 1 or more hours to play with the cats and kittens. Pet them, talk to them, sit with them, and give them attention. They are stuck in cages 24/7 while they wait and hope for adoption. When you spend time with them regularly, you enrich their lives, bring a little happiness, and therefore boost their chances of adoption into a great home.

Make it a standing weekly date
What does your local animal shelter or rescue need? Do they need help with cleaning cages? Visitors to give attention to the cats and dogs? Someone to walk the dogs? Find out what they need and make a plan to help. Set a date and time to come each week and spend time with the animals. You can enrich a shelter pet’s life and join an amazing community of volunteers. And always spread the word that you’re volunteering and invite others to join you and to come to the shelter to adopt.

Make cat huts
Whether you make a DIY hut or purchase a new or used cat hut and line it with straw, donating huts to an animal rescue organization that practices T.N.R. (trap/neuter/release) for feral cats, can help keep managed feral cat colony cats warm, dry and safe in inclement weather conditions. Click here to learn how to build your own D.I.Y. Cat Hut.

Provide a talent
Are you a photographer? Volunteer at your local animal shelter or rescue to take photos of the adoptable pets. Great photos make a HUGE difference in helping pets find great homes. Think about what you’re good at. Can you use it to help animals in need?

Paint or sketch portraits
Do you have a talent for drawing/sketching or painting? Use your skills to paint/draw pictures of pets for adoption at your local shelter/rescue and display the art in your city to promote local adoption.

Organize an event
Work with your local animal shelter/rescue to create a successful adoption event. Do you have a great location to hold an event? Lend your expertise (i.e. photography, coordinating, etc.) to help organize a great event. When adoption events are held in proper locations, you can create an increase in adoptions and directly help pets

Help with transport
Volunteer to transport newly rescued animals to the vet or to the rescue group who is saving them. Speak with your local animal rescue organization and ask if they need assistance in this area. Be sure to have a clean driving record, strong references, and always follow through (do what you say you will). When you commit to helping as a transport volunteer, the animal rescue/shelters are counting on you to show up on time, drive safely, keep the pets safe, and do a good job.

Help with fundraiser events
Is your local animal shelter/rescue hosting a fundraiser event? If so, ask how you can get involved and help. Maybe it’s donated items they need, or maybe they need someone to help sell tickets to an event. Ask where you can be the most helpful. Does your shelter/rescue need help organizing and running a fundraiser?

Ask for donations to your favorite charity on your birthday
Help save lives by collecting donations for your favorite animal rescue charity, instead of gifts. This is also a great way to celebrate the birthday’s of your pet-loving friends, family, neighbors

Get crafty!
Create pet tags or personalized collars and sell them to raise funds. Martha Stewart has instructions for creating cute pet tags. A little collar pizzaz for shelter pets can help increase adoption rates. You can also create D.I.Y. pet tags by taking orders from the general public for a fee and then donating those funds to your local animal shelter/rescue to help save more lives in need.

Hair of the dog
If you are a groomer, offer your services to your local animal shelter or rescues. If you know a groomer, ask them to donate one day a month to help the animals in need. When animals are professionally groomed, they find adopters faster and they feel better while they wait.

Join the B.O.D.
Inquire about joining the Board of Directors at your favorite local animal shelter or rescue. You can make a difference by joining the Board and helping to organize fundraisers and change policies to save more lives.

Donate toys
Purchase new toys or create DIY pet toys to donate to your local animal shelter/rescue. The adoptable pets who are waiting for adoption will really appreciate the toys, as it will give them something to play with while they wait to be adopted. Toys can enrich the lives of pets’ life while they are in a shelter/rescue, and therefore can make them more likely to be adopted (because their spirits are boosted and they are happier).

Food drives
Hold a pet food or supply drive to collect a large donation of items to donate to your local animal shelter/rescue. It’s easy to help homeless dogs simply by collecting food for your local shelters or rescues. Put a box at your work, or ask a local community store (pet-related or not) if you can set up a box and be in charge of taking the donations to the charity once a month. It’s a simple thing to that means a lot and only take a little bit of your time each month.

Donate pet carriers and crates
Donating new or gently used pet carriers of various sizes is incredibly helpful to animal shelters and rescues. Pet carriers will be used to help adopters safely transport their new pet home, to help pets get to and from the veterinarian, etc. Donating pet carriers helps save funds and allows those funds to be used to rescue/save more pets in need.

Create adoption packets
Find local pet services that will offer steep discounts to those who adopt their pet from the local shelter/pound/rescue (i.e. one free grooming visit for adopted pets). Then volunteer some time to stuff adoption packets at your local shelter.

Race for homeless pets
Gather a group of your friends and run or walk a 5K, 1/2 Marathon, or full marathon race. Any distance will do! Raise pledges and donate those pledges to your local animal rescue group to help save more lives in need.

Donation jars
Tried and true. Create and set out donation jars at local businesses to collect funds for your local animal shelter/rescue. Be sure to ask permission. This is a great way to raise much-needed funds while spreading the word about the need for animal adoption. Place a colorful sign next to the donation jar, preferably with photos of pets in need, and tell the community how their donations are helping save lives.

Words are powerful
Write a thank you card to your local shelter or rescue group. Working and volunteering in animal rescue and advocacy can be emotionally exhausting work. Let others know that their work matters. Words can go a long way to helping boost spirits.

Share on Social Media
On social media 24/7? All it takes is a quick click of a button and you have helped a homeless dog by sharing their stories and adoption information to all your followers. It’s super easy and the more people who see that dog the more likely he will find a home.

Educate others
Once you’ve done your part to help local animals, your job isn’t done! There will always be others out there who don’t know what they can do. Anything from gently correcting a friend who is misinformed, to encouraging your buddy to adopt a dog from the local shelter instead of spending $1,000 on a puppy from a breeder because shelter dogs are actually pretty awesome. Educating others helps spread awareness!

Helping homeless animals is so much easier than individuals in the community seem to think it is. If you do nothing more than help spread the awareness of the great deeds of Animal Service Officers, hold a donation party, or go door to door collecting a few dollars to donate, everyone involved thank you. You don’t need to spend five hours a week cleaning pee covered floors to make a difference. All you need to do is care.

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