About 50 Ways to Help Homeless Animals

Aug 2 / Jennifer Thornburg
Empty space, drag to resize
Support spay and neuter programs
Spay and neuter is a proven way to reduce pet overpopulation, If you already spay/neuter your companions, then consider sponsoring the spay/neuter of a cat or dog in your community, donating needed supplies, or simply making a monetary donation. SNAP-NC is a nonprofit organization providing high-quality, low-cost spay-neuter surgeries for pets belonging to North Carolina families in need.
Know the facts about puppy mills.
Puppy mills are inhumane commercial dog breeding facilities that may sell puppies in pet stores, online or directly to the public (in flea markets or via classified ads). The Humane Society has the most up-to-date stats.
Now get tough on puppy mills.
Contact your legislators and let them know that you’re concerned about the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills and want the puppy mill issue to be a priority. The Human Society Legislative Endorsement Fund is a good place to check is a good place to start.

Support pet sale bans.
Many cities are implementing legislation to ban the sale of dogs (and cats) in pet stores. This goes a long way to stop puppy mills and help dogs in shelters get adopted. Here is a list of cities by the state who have passed legislation. Don’t see your city or state? You can volunteer to spearhead a campaign or help an existing one reach its goal.

Consider adoption!
Some of the very best dogs I've ever known have been adopted.

Be a cat-vocate
Join a local cat initiative to stabilize overpopulation by promoting trap neuter return (TNR), colony management for feral cats, and practicing responsible pet guardianship.

Donate humane traps for TNR management of feral cat colonies
Donate a new humane trap to your local cat rescue/feral cat T.N.R. (trap/neuter/release) group. The donation of a new trap can help the group spay/neuter more cats and save more lives.

Build a fence
Beyond Fences improves the welfare of dogs living in underserved communities and dogs continuously chained outdoors by offering information and free services, including wellness care, spay/neuter, vaccinations, shelter intervention, and fences. They’ll take your sweat, your money, or promotion. And, if you aren't in their area, there is information about starting your own chapter on the website.

Fund a rescue group
Besides animal shelters, some groups rescue dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and other small pets that are breed or issue-specific. Shelters and rescue groups are essential in the long term care of animals. By funding animal rescue groups, you can help homeless pets by providing them with needed veterinary care and supplies during their adoption journey.

Foster a relationship
Fostering a shelter pet can make a big difference.
For some pets, it’s the environment they need to come out of their shell and learn some skills that will make them more adoptable. Being a foster parent frees up precious space in rescues and shelters for more dogs and cats.

Sponsor a pet
Contribute to caring for a shelter dog or cat waiting for their forever home. The adoption fee covers vaccinations, spay/neuter, parasite treatment, microchip, food, shelter, and comfort.

Donate to a work match program.
Does your employer offer a donation match program? Many employers will match any donation you make to a non-profit charity.

Donate money to your local rescue group or shelter
Setting up a monthly donation to [your organization of choice] allows them to focus more resources on lifesaving programs and less on fundraising. 

Donate items to your local shelter.
Ours frequently need dog and cat supplies, blankets, towels, wash clothes, office supplies, hot dogs, etc. Ask your shelter what they need most. And don’t forget delicious treats for the staff. They work so hard.

Donate Kuranda beds and cat towers.
Donate a Kuranda cat bed/tower to an animal shelter/rescue to comfort adoptable animals hoping to find forever homes. Click here to learn how.

Write a press release or op-ed.
Write a press release to your local newspaper and/or animal-related blogs. Tell your community why adopting pets from the animal shelter and animal rescues is important. Tell your community why neutering your pet is important and where to find local affordable options.

Amazon Smile
Use Smile.Amazon.com and sign up to support your favorite animal rescue/shelter. It’s totally free, and once you sign up, every time you use SMILE.AMAZON and make a purchase, Amazon will donate to the charity.

Walk a shelter dog
Become a volunteer and visit your local animal shelter once a week or regularly if that works for you. Walk a few of the dogs on a leash outside, let them get fresh air, pet them, talk to them, play with them, and give them attention. This is a great way for you to give back to the community. It’s also a great way to get outside, exercise, and enjoy the fresh air. 

Pet a shelter cat
Set a day and time each week to volunteer at your local animal shelter for one or more hours to play with the cats and kittens. Pet them, talk to them, sit with them, and give them attention. Spending time with them regularly enriches their lives, brings a little happiness, and boosts their chances of adoption.

Make it a standing weekly date.
What does your local animal shelter or rescue need? Do they need help with cleaning cages? Visitors to give attention to the cats and dogs? Someone, to walk the dogs? Find out what they need and make a plan to help. Set a date and time to come each week and spend time with the animals. You can enrich a shelter pet’s life and join an amazing community of volunteers. And always spread the word that you’re volunteering and invite others to join you and to come to the shelter to adopt.

Make cat huts
Whether you make a DIY hut or purchase a new or used cat hut and line it with straw, donating huts to an animal rescue organization that practices T.N.R. (trap/neuter/release) for feral cats can help keep managed feral cat colony cats warm, dry and safe in inclement weather conditions. Build your own D.I.Y. Cat Hut.

Provide a talent
Are you a photographer? Volunteer at your local animal shelter or rescue to take photos of the adoptable pets. Great photos make a HUGE difference in helping pets find great homes. Think about what you’re good at. Can you use it to help animals in need?

Paint or sketch portraits
Do you have a talent for drawing/sketching, or painting? Use your skills to paint/draw pictures of pets for adoption at your local shelter/rescue and display the art in your city to promote local adoption.

Organize an event
Work with your local animal shelter/rescue to create a successful adoption event. Do you have a great location to hold an event? Lend your expertise (i.e., photography, coordinating, etc.) to help organize a great event. When adoption events are held in proper locations, you can increase adoptions and directly help animals.

Help with transportVolunteer to transport newly rescued animals to the vet or rescue group that saves them. Speak with your local animal rescue organization and ask if they need assistance in this area. Be sure to have a clean driving record, strong references, and always follow through (do what you say you will).

Help with fundraiser events.Is your local animal shelter/rescue hosting a fundraiser event? If so, ask how you can get involved and help. Maybe it’s donated items they need or someone to help sell tickets to an event. Ask where you can be the most helpful. 

Ask for donations to your favorite charity on your birthday
On your birthday, collect donations for your favorite animal rescue, instead of gifts. This is also a great way to celebrate the birthdays of your pet-loving friends, family, neighbors.

Get crafty!
Create pet tags or personalized collars and sell them to raise funds. Martha Stewart has instructions for creating pet tags. A little collar pizzazz for shelter pets can help increase adoption rates. You can also create D.I.Y. pet tags by taking orders from the general public for a fee and then donating those funds to your local animal shelter/rescue to help save more lives in need.

Hair of the dog
If you are a groomer, offer your services to your local animal shelter or rescue. If you know a groomer, ask them to donate one day a month to help the animals in need. When animals are professionally groomed, they find adopters faster, and they feel better while they wait.

Join the B.O.D.
Inquire about joining the Board of Directors at your favorite local animal shelter or rescue. You can make a difference by joining the Board and helping to organize fundraisers and change policies to save more lives.

Donate toys
Purchase new toys or create DIY pet toys to donate to your local animal shelter/rescue. The adoptable pets who are waiting for adoption will really appreciate the toys, as it will give them something to play with while they wait to be adopted. Toys can enrich the lives of animals while they are in a shelter/rescue, making them more likely to be adopted (because their spirits are boosted and they are happier).

Food drives
Hold a pet food or supply drive to collect a large donation of items to donate to your local animal shelter/rescue. It’s easy to help homeless dogs simply by collecting food for your local shelters or rescues. Put a box at your work, or ask a local community store (pet-related or not) if you can set up a box and take the donations to the charity once a month. It’s a simple thing to that means a lot and only take a little bit of your time each month.

Donate pet carriers and crates
Donating new or gently used pet carriers of various sizes is incredibly helpful to animal shelters and rescues. Pet carriers will help adopters safely transport their new pet home, to help pets get to and from the veterinarian, etc. Donating pet carriers helps save funds and allows those funds to be used to rescue/save more pets in need.

Create adoption packets
Find local pet services that offer steep discounts to those who adopt their pet from the local shelter/pound/rescue (i.e., one free grooming visit for adopted pets). Then volunteer some time to stuff adoption packets at your local shelter.

Race for homeless pets
Gather your friends and run or walk a 5K, 1/2 Marathon, or full marathon race. Any distance will do! Raise pledges and donate those pledges to your local animal rescue group to help save more lives in need.

Donation jars
Tried and true. Create and set out donation jars at local businesses to collect funds for your local animal shelter/rescue. Be sure to ask permission. This is a great way to raise much-needed funds while spreading the word about the need for animal adoption. Place a colorful sign next to the donation jar with photos of pets in need, and tell the community how their donations are helping save lives.

Words are powerful.
Write a thank you card to your local shelter or rescue group. Working and volunteering in animal rescue and advocacy can be emotionally exhausting work. Let others know that their work matters. Words can go a long way to helping boost spirits.

Share on Social Media
On social media 24/7? All it takes is a quick click of a button, and you have helped a homeless dog by sharing their stories and adoption information with all your followers. It’s super easy, and the more people who see that dog, the more likely he will find a home.

Educate others
Once you’ve done your part to help local animals, your job isn’t done! There will always be others out there who don’t know what they can do. You happen to have a whole list!

You can make a difference in a homeless animal's life without spending five hours a week cleaning pee-covered floors. Though that would be very appreciated. Find what speaks to you!
Created with