You know that one-of-a-kind feeling when you’ve done a good deed? It might be as simple as opening the door for an elderly person or as complicated as stopping at the scene of an accident. You may not be an EMT but you can call 911. You can comfort someone. For most people there’s just this instinct to do something.
The point is, every day there are big and small opportunities to make a real difference in the life of another person – or animal.
Rescue shelters are a great example. You can imagine how overwhelmed they are. Think about every stray cat or dog you’ve witnessed and multiply that by infinity. Not every person is in a position to adopt a pet but there are so many other ways to do good by these orphaned animals.
Fostering can be so much fun for families. It can be for a weekend, while an animal recovers from a medical procedure, or until a forever home can be found. One of the huge advantages to fostering is often the rescue covers the cost! It’s also a great way to prepare your dogs, other pets, or kids for adding another family member before you are ready to make a full commitment. The kids can experience different breeds and types of pets while learning about the responsibility of caring for a pet.
Donating money or supplies is a huge help. Next time you’re at the store, buy a bag of pet food or a toy. Shelters always need financial donations, you can also often sponsor a dog by naming them or providing food, toys, and medical expenses for them during their foster stay. Most shelters also have Amazon wish lists. Put those credit card points to good use and send a few items to your favorite rescue.
If you or the kids have some extra time, consider volunteering. I personally walked dogs at my local humane society. They have several miles of great trails to take the dogs out on that are so beautiful! They also had a fenced area to play fetch or just hang out. They marked all of the dogs’ cages with color coordinating levels based on how easy or hard they were to walk so you never felt nervous handling the dogs! In addition, there’s always areas needing to be cleaned, and cats needing to be loved on. Another memory-building opportunity for the family is reading to dogs. It’s true. Many shelters allow people to read or play music to dogs in order to keep them entertained. (Harper and Her Dogs is a favorite book!)
A unique opportunity to help is by transporting animals, locally and long-distance. This is a fun one and requires very little time! There are so many organizations out there moving dogs from one part of the country where the shelters are overcrowded to another area when there are more families to adopt. They need drivers (and sometimes pilots!) to handle specific legs of the trip. I personally drive for Doobert, which breaks up the drives into legs so we all act as a caravan where we live to transport the dogs to their new home. You get a buddy for an hour or so in the car and make a new friend for the day! I have met so many great dogs and people by participating in transport.
If you’re more of an admin-type, how about doing some desk work? On top of caring for animals, shelter staff need help with phone calls, emails, and marketing. Help get pet profiles into the public eye so their future family can find them! Social media gurus apply! Shelters need so much help sharing and marketing their animals, with just a few hours a week you can network these dogs into so many loving homes! You can also help by just simply sharing posts of dogs that need homes. Every single share helps and gets the dogs out there into new networks.
Another desktop option? Write to your local politicians about protecting animal rights and even funding local shelters. Animals can’t speak for themselves but you can be their voice to people who can change things on an even bigger level.
The next time you see a stray cat or dog, follow that instinct to do something. Sure, it may require a little time, money, or effort but, in exchange, you get that one-of-a-kind, “good deed feeling,” knowing you just made a positive impact in your corner of the animal world.
Kara Venus lives in New England with her daughter, husband and two dogs. Her love for dogs and volunteering with local rescues inspired this story! She works as a marketing professional by day and enjoys skiing, gardening, and traveling. She hopes this story encourages readers to feel confident about welcoming a new family member, two-legged or four-legged!