The season of giving is upon us, and there are countless animal shelters in need of your generosity. Whether you’re looking to get your hands dirty or give back from the comfort of your own home, there are plenty of ways to make a difference this holiday season.
Foster, Foster, Foster
If you’re looking to make a direct impact over the holidays, consider welcoming a foster pet into your home. Allison Seelig, head of Marketing and Fundraising for Hearts & Bones Rescue in Dallas, Texas, and New York City, says fostering is absolutely crucial this time of year.
“With so many people traveling for the holidays, we need people who will step up. So many rescue groups and shelters are going to need help continuing to rescue dogs because the number being abandoned at shelters has not decreased.”
The number of foster homes an organization has access to often directly corresponds with how many animals they’re able to save, so fostering could mean literally saving an animal’s life. Shelters typically ask for a two-to-three week commitment, but can usually work with your schedule around the holidays. Read more about whether fostering is right for you, and reach out to local rescue organizations to learn more about foster opportunities in your area.
Provide a Ride
As you can imagine, coordinating transport for dozens of rescue pets can be a logistical nightmare. If fostering isn’t an option, you can still help in a pet’s adoption journey by giving them a ride between foster homes, to a vet appointment, or to an adoption event. Especially if you live in a place where cars-ownership is sparse––shout out to NYC rescue organizations––helping these pets to get where they need to go is a small way to make a big difference.
Make a Donation
Holiday-giving can make or break a nonprofit’s fiscal year.
“All of these rescue organizations and shelters rely on donations to be able to do their work,”Seelig said. "This is a really important time for fundraising.”
Instead of requesting traditional gifts this year, ask your family and friends to make donations to an animal shelter in your name. Many companies offer donation matching programs, so be sure to check whether there’s an easy way to double the impact of what you’re able to give.
As well as monetary donations, many shelters are in need of food, toys, beds, and other pet supplies. If you went overboard on pet shopping this year (guilty!), look for a local organization that accepts donations, or start a donation drive in your community to generate supplies on a larger scale.
The Gift of Time
With shelter staff traveling for the holidays, there’s a big need for volunteers. While not every shelter offers in-person volunteer opportunities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, many rely on them to socialize the animals to help get them ready for adoption. Seelig added that socialization “can be anything from petting pets to get them used to people to taking dogs for walks and providing enrichment for them.” Playing with puppies to give back? Twist our arms!
Help Homed Pets in Need
Just like people, pets can rack up sky-high medical bills in the blink of an eye. Over the years, many owners have taken to online fundraising platforms like GoFundMe to help fund surgeries and treatments for their animals. In a better world, we’d have public health care and public veterinary care, but in the meantime, you can make someone’s holiday season a bit brighter by helping them to raise the money they need.
Spread Holiday Cheer
There are many creative ways to give back to your local shelter. Take Rachel Newman in Columbia, Missouri, who raised money for the Central Missouri Humane Society by selling dog-friendly Thanksgiving meals to coincide with her dog, Johnny’s, one-year Gotcha Day.
“I wanted to do something for the humane society out of gratitude for what the organization did for me and my dog,” she said. A Dog Thanksgiving generated $300 dollars in donations, and the meals made for a lot of happy dog faces on Thanksgiving Day.
The Spruce Pets spoke with others who drew pet portraits to raise money, donated homemade dog cookies to shelters, and planned dog fashion show fundraisers—the possibilities are endless when it comes to giving back this holiday season.