Wondering how you can best help animal shelters and homeless dogs and cats this holiday season?
Now more than ever homeless animals and the rescue organizations who save them need our help to provide safe, healthy harbor and connect them with loving homes. Record numbers of dogs and cats were adopted during COVID to be best friends and loving companions; then, heartbreakingly, many were returned to shelters through no fault of their own. Meanwhile, puppy mills and backyard breeders jumped on the increased demand during COVID and exponentially increased breeding - and overpopulation.
The result: rescue organizations in crisis, overflowing with more animals in need than ever, and working mightily to care for them all and find them the lifelong homes and good life they deserve.
There are SO many ways we all can help make a positive difference.
1) Adopt your new family member.
Shelters are full of wonderful pups of all ages and sizes, and rescue organizations are beyond happy to help you choose the best match for your home and lifestyle. They want the best fit for each and every pet and person - a match where the dog will thrive and it will be a lifelong love affair for both of you.
Most rescues do a truly amazing job of not only providing high-level and basic medical care for their dogs, and many also work with certified positive trainers to build skill sets and manners that help pups be ready for their new homes. Plus it helps them enjoy life more in rescue while they wait to be discovered by their people - like you!
And while a puppy might be right for you, an older dog who is past the 3 a.m. potty walks and is a bit more seasoned can be a great fit. At Mighty Paw, we have a particularly big spot in our hearts for seniors who suddenly find themselves homeless and have so much gentle love to give.
Whatever age, size or energy level is right for you, your rescue organization can help you discover your soul dog. We adopted our Barley 12 years ago and can't imagine our family without him!
And remember, when you adopt, you save two lives - the dog you're adopting and the one who can now be welcomed into the shelter space you opened up.
2) Foster to save multiple lives - and exponentially enrich yours.
If the time isn't right now for adopting, think about fostering. Fosters are literal lifesavers. Thanks to fosters, shelters can expanded their ability to save lives by breaking through the limits of physical space and care with foster homes. Many small to medium rescues now utilize a wonderful umbrella of foster homes with no brick and mortar shelter, making it possible for more rescue organizations to grow and thrive.
Being in foster homes gives rescue dogs an opportunity to live in a home and family environment, giving them the gift of being able to relax, de-stress, and learn to thrive in the rhythm of home life. It's also a great opportunity to help animal shelters learn more about each dog's true away-from-shelter-life personality, like whether they're comfortable with other animals, good with young children, and more.
For you, being a foster parent may turn out to be the most rewarding thing you've ever done. There's a reason people become serial fosters. Sure, it can be a little teary when you send your foster off to his or her loving, forever family, but they're the happiest of tears knowing you've made your pup's dream of a home come true.
Talk to your community rescue or shelter about how to foster - they'll give you everything you need and make it easy for you. And you only have to start with one dog!
3) Help by starting in your own home.
It may seem like an obvious, small thing, but you can help make the environment for shelters more supportive by modeling thoughtful practices with your own pets to keep them safe and inadvertently landing at a shelter.
- If your pets aren't microchipped, be sure to get it done right away.
- Always walk your dog with a proper-fitting harness and with identification tags with your phone number.
- Keep your pup safely inside during Fourth of July and any other firework events.
Shelters get swamped every year around the Fourth of July when pets get spooked by fireworks, bolt away from their homes, and get lost. Chipping and ID tags help dogs get home faster - and keep them from distracting rescues and taking space in shelters needed for dogs who are homeless.
- If your pets aren't already spayed or neutered, check with your vet or local shelter about scheduling an appointment to get it done.
Spaying and neutering is the simplest, biggest way to impact overpopulation and homelessness among pets. Many shelters offer spay and neuter clinic days to make it easy and inexpensive (or free).
You also help raise awareness by spreading the word about good, safe practices in your real life and social media community!
4) Ask your local shelter how you can help.
Talk to your local shelter or favorite rescues about other ways you can contribute with your time, talents, and funding.
Shelters are always looking for volunteers who can help walk dogs, take them on adventures, and give them enrichment opportunities. Opportunities for dependable volunteers abound at most animal shelters from helping with regular daily needs to adoption and fundraising events.
Can you help with transport occasionally? Are you good at fundraising, organizing special events, marketing, social media? Whatever you do for a living is very likely to be helpful to your rescue on a volunteer basis. Of course, it's great if you happen to be a certified dog trainer, but shelters need lawyers, contractors, photographers, writers, and animal lovers with all kinds of skills and talents, too!
What can I donate to my local animal shelter?
Rescue organizations large and small always need funding for necessary vet bills and medications to handle everything from spaying and neutering to basic vaccinations to serious operations. Monetary donations in any amount are always needed and very much appreciated for healthcare, food, transport, operations, and more.
Ask your shelter about special funding opportunities you can support. They'll be happy to share how you can get behind the spay/neuter program, sponsor a specific pet, or any number of ways you can make a difference.
Extra items from your home
Items from your home can also be welcome donations, including extra towels, blankets, washable pet beds in good condition and more. Check with your local animal shelters to see what might be useful and when - they may not have extra storage space if they don't have a need for something at a given time.
Wish list items
Since rescues and shelters often get questions about what donations would be most useful, many have created wish lists so supporters can donate specific, much-needed items and know they will be put to very good use. You can often find wish lists on rescues' websites or mentioned in their social media. Or just ask - they'll gladly tell you what's truly useful at any point in time.
We often see our lick pad, lick bowl, peanut butter, martingale collar, yak chews, and treat pouch on rescue and shelter wish lists, and would be happy to recommend some rescues who would appreciate a donation!
Rescue with Mighty Paw
Here at Mighty Paw, we're dedicated to helping rescues and shelters across the country by spotlighting adoptable pets as models on our social media channels, sending them Mighty Paw goodies so they feel special, and providing funding to 10 rescues every month!
We also started our Chews for Change program this year where we donate hundreds of yak chews to rescue partners across the country every month to provide much needed enrichment to dogs in their care while waiting to be adopted. Our yak chews are long-lasting and provide lots of good mental stimulation which can also help relax the dogs when prospective families want to meet them!
Follow us on our social channels to see our spotlight pets looking for homes and watch them in action, loving their walks, adventures, and Mighty Paw treats and toys!
You can also help us share these pups and #RescueWithMightyPaw!
As always at Mighty Paw, our commitment is to provide dog parents with high-quality products that are safe, durable, and practical for everyday use. Whether you're cuddling on the couch together at home or heading out for adventures, we've got you covered.