Last year I outlined a few organizations that could use some help on Giving Tuesday. But this year, I want to talk about ways you can give back while spending little to no money. I originally wrote about how to give back to the pets in your community 3 years ago (oh man, where has time gone?). Today, I would like to revisit some of those topics and add a few. Giving Tuesday is awesome! I love that we are reminded of what’s most important during the holiday season! Without further adieu, here is a concise list of ways to give back to the pets in your community today and through this holiday season.
1. Clean out your closet
Blankets and towels are always needed at local veterinary hospitals, shelters, and rescues. Blankets can be used as bedding to comfort pets awaiting their new home and pets who are recovering from procedures and surgeries. Towels are often used at veterinary hospitals to help pets feel more comfortable while on the table or the floor for their exam. Not to mention, they are used to clean up the messiest of messes in a veterinary hospital and therefore have to be replaced often. So if you are looking to give back today, take a quick look through your linen closet and bring those freshly laundered blankets, sheets, and towels to your local animal shelter, rescue, or veterinary hospital.
2. Toys & Beds
Shelters, rescues, and veterinary hospitals can also make use of gently-used pet beds and toys. So today, take a look at the pet bedding and toys you have at home. Are there any you could donate to a pet in your community waiting for their new forever home?
Volunteering can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Reach out to your local animal shelter or rescue and see if they need any help caring for their animals this holiday season. Sometimes, shelters could use a hand keeping their facilities clean for potential new adopters, other times they could use some help at an off-site event like a local PetSmart adoption day.
If working at the shelter doesn’t fit into your current schedule, reach out to a local rescue or shelter and see if you could offer your skills as a professional. For example, your local animal shelter might need help building a new website, or they could use some new photography for their newest adoptable pets.
4. Feed the Homeless Pets
Many communities have programs for feeding homeless pets. Sometimes, it’s simply a good samaritan that feeds the stray pets at the nearby park, but other times, these efforts are part of an organization. Reach out to these organizations and see if they could use some help this winter.
5. Build an Outdoor Shelter for Your Neighborhood Cats
Cats have an amazing ability to survive in feral colonies. However, they struggle when the weather becomes extreme. Snow has already fallen in several parts of the country which means that it’s time for feral cats to seek shelter on cold nights. The Humane Society of the United States has some excellent resources for building the perfect DIY outdoor shelter (many of these materials you have lying around your house) for the cats in your community.
You can always donate a few food bags (even ones that are already open) to the pets at your local shelter. These types of donations can be particularly helpful at your local food banks or other resources that help feed the homeless and their pets.
7. Visit the Elderly
When I was in college, my local shelter (shout out to Yolo County!) had an awesome program where you could volunteer to take shelter pets to visit the elderly. If you have a pet that is well-behaved and perhaps is even certified as a Canine Good Citizen, see if you can take them to visit a local retirement home. I can’t tell you how amazing it was to see the residents in the Woodland retirement community light up when the dogs walked in the door. Additionally, this particular program helped the pets from the shelter get some much-needed attention and socialization!
8. Walk Your Neighbor’s Dog
You don’t have to be a professional dog-walker, especially during the holiday season. I bet you can think of someone in your neighborhood who could use some help walking their dogs this holiday season. Maybe they work full-time and don’t have any daylight to walk their dogs (and don’t feel comfortable walking at night). Perhaps they are injured or unable to walk in extreme weather and could use some help getting their dog the proper exercise. Maybe you know they are stressed or have to visit family this month. No matter the reason, if you have the time, this is an easy way to give back to the pets in your community this holiday season.