The season of giving is approaching, and that applies to more than just presents. If you’re an animal lover, this is the perfect time to pitch in at your local animal shelter. With so many ways to help, it may be hard to decide upon the best option for helping pets in need. Keep reading to find out about seven super helpful ways to give back to the local critters and furry friends who need your kindness this holiday season.

7. Join the Cleanup Crew

Let’s start with the least glamorous but most useful task: helping to clean up kennels and outdoor play areas at your local animal rescue. This is obviously not the most popular task for volunteers, so your local kennel will be overjoyed to have you sign up to help with cleaning. Plus, a sparkling center is more likely to wow potential adoptive pet parents, so your help could go a long way to helping abandoned pets find their forever home.

Your cleanup duties could include washing the pets themselves. Help with grooming is often big on shelters’ list of to-dos because it, too, helps animals look even better to potential adoptive parents.

The holidays are a popular time for potential adopters to come perusing through the kennels in search of a furry friend. Shelters want their building and animals looking the best they can during this season!

6. Share Adoption Profiles on Your Facebook Page

Chances are, your local shelter has a social media presence to encourage locals to adopt the animals living at their facility. With a click of a button, you can help those pets get seen by their new family. By simply sharing the adoption profiles they post to their page, you could help facilitate an adoption.

5. Donate Supplies

Obviously, an animal shelter needs a lot of supplies. From pet shampoo to food to leashes to toys and cleaning supplies, their bills are likely much higher than the fees they charge for adoption. A monetary donation can make a big difference, but so can a physical donation of the supplies they might need.

Since it’s the middle of winter, you can think outside the box with the items you donate, too. For example, extra blankets, beds and even doggie jackets and sweaters are extremely useful during the colder months — and are likely not on the top of the average donor’s shopping list.

4. Attend Fundraising Events

The holidays are a big time for giving, and your local shelter knows that. As such, they’ve probably organized some sort of fundraising event in celebration of the season.

If your shelter doesn’t have anything planned, you could volunteer to organize some type of drive or event on your own. There are plenty of creative fundraiser ideas, and many are especially perfect for the holidays.

For example, you could charge local pet owners to take pictures of their furry babies with Santa, with proceeds benefitting the shelter. If you have a few pets up for adoption on-hand at the photo shoot, who knows? You might inspire an adoption in the process, too.

girl plays with alsatian puppy in the snow

girl plays with alsatian puppy in the snow (image credit: public domain)

3. Set Up a Play Date

Adoptees-to-be need as much human contact as they can get. Whether they’re used to having a family or they’ve been scooped up from a life on the road, socialization is key in making homeless animals fit for adoption.

If you don’t have a ton of time to devote by yourself, you can ask your workplace or another organization you work with to get involved with volunteering. Businesses, companies and organizations will often be receptive to promoting volunteer opportunities amongst employees or members, especially during the holiday season. Promote the cause!

2. Adopt, Don’t Shop

If you’re thinking of adding a furry friend to your family this holiday season, make sure you pick your new pet from a local shelter. It’s easy to avoid puppy mills and other breeders who use unhealthy techniques. Plus, you’ll give a homeless animal the greatest gift of all — a loving family and a permanent home. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that a pet will be in your life for a long time — far past the thrill of the holiday season. Don’t adopt until you’re ready.

1. Ask Your Local Shelter What They Need

Finally, if you’re in doubt of how you can help, ask your local shelter how you can be of aid. Perhaps they’re in need of donations, physical labor or volunteers for a local adoption drive. Whatever it is, they’ll have something for you to do, and you can be sure that what you’re doing is of great help to local pets.

The feeling of giving is in the air. That feeling is made even better when the giving you’re doing is good for animals who need the kindness of people like you to survive and thrive when the odds are against them. So, don’t hesitate — get involved this holiday season and see just how much good you can do.

A woman snuggles a cat against her shoulder

Give the gift of comfort this holiday season (image: creative commons)