I have always considered myself an ‘animal lover’. Years ago I remember talking to people that volunteered at local animal shelters and had the common response that so many feel ‘Oh, I could never do that, I’d want to take them all home with me’. While I admired them, it was completely out of my ability to consider. Then one day my beloved dog passed away suddenly and something shifted inside of me, how could I not help the homeless animals? The shelter was in desperate need of volunteers and I had a little time and a lot of love to give. For many years I was a volunteer dog walker and helped with the community outreach events. On occasion I would see other volunteers carrying in their crate full of foster kittens because they were old enough to be adopted, I always told myself ‘Oh, I could never do that; I wouldn’t be able to let them go’. Then last year our wonderful shelter put out a plea to volunteers, they needed foster families during kitten season, I thought I’d give it a try and knew the worst that could happen was I would be deemed a ‘failed foster’ (common, fun loving term in the shelter world!) and we’d have new kitties added to our fur family! As of today my husband and I have had countless litters come through our home. I nurture these babies, I give them everything I have to socialize and teach them, I fall head over heels in love, only to let them go. Even though my heart aches and tears fall as I release them back to the shelter, to be adopted, I’ve come to realize that is not about me, it is about helping the helpless. The lessons that these animals teach me are endless.
Volunteering to help the homeless animals takes on many shapes; some people just can’t walk into an animal shelter, it’s too emotional and depressing, while other immerse themselves in shelter life daily. Neither is wrong or right, I personally honor where everyone is at. That said I believe that there are different ways of giving to the animals that will work for everyone. Here are a few suggestions of ideas to help the homeless animals without stepping foot in a shelter.
- Go to your local shelter’s website, they all have a ‘wish list’, put a plea out to your friends and family to collect towels, newspapers, whatever the shelter is in need of.
- Use Facebook as a tool to share information about animals in need of homes, ‘Like’ your local shelter and rescue groups to find out animals that are available for adoption.
- Plan an event (birthday party, holiday party, BBQ), invite all of your family/friends and have them donate money for a shelter or rescue group, instead of bringing gifts.
- Give a gift of money, even the smallest amounts will help.
- Get your kids involved, have a bake sale or garage sale, benefiting the homeless animals!
- Do you have particular skills? Website design, construction, public speaking, fundraising? Utilize your gift to help!
- Consider leaving a your favorite animal shelter in your trust/will.
For the past 4 years, a small group of volunteers and I have hosted a Bingo event (Paws for Bingo) and raised over $32,000 for our shelter. People want to help, to give; we just have to offer avenues that work for them.
Lastly, when our clients hire Affinity Pet Services, they are hiring people that truly care about animals and not only work with animals but volunteer to help the homeless animals in our community, it’s our heart-work.