6 Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer at Animal Shelters

Some people like to buy their dog or cat gifts for the holidays.

If you really want to make a companion animal happy, think about shelter donations. Donating to a local animal shelter—especially underfunded county shelters—will not only make you feel good, but will help a lot of animals who don’t get the time and love you regularly give your dog or cat.

Financial Donations

This is easy. It’s the end of the year so you’ll check off two good deeds at once: lowering your tax bill and helping the shelter feed and care for lost or abandoned pets.

Food Donations

Don’t be tempted to go buy a 50-pound bag of cheap dog food or a case of discount store canned cat food. Buy a couple smaller boxes of the Honest Kitchen’s pet food, and feel good knowing that these shelter pets will get to enjoy some premium food like your pets at home. Cat shelters go through a lot of kitty litter. Donate the best you can afford (clumping and non-clay).

Skill Donations

Are you up on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook? Offer to shoot photos and post information for the shelter on social media accounts, directing your friends to the shelter. Can you take photos while simultaneously making animals feel at ease? Adorable pet photos can make the difference between a shelter animal finding a home, and one that lingers in the shelter. Call and ask if the shelter could use your help with intake photography. And of course, being there when the dog or cat is adopted helps record “adoption success” photos or videos that encourage others to get in the shelter and adopt a shelter pet.

Time Donations

Most shelters are in dire need of help with care, dog walking and pen and facility cleaning. Give them a call and donate some time during your child’s Christmas break or your own year-end time off. Or consider signing up for regular volunteer work. This is the gift that keeps on giving.

Wish List Donations

Most shelters and rescue groups have a wish list of badly needed items. Give them a call, and then look around and see if you have any extra items in good condition that you aren’t using. Clean them and drop off. Some items that come in handy include pet beds, baby gates, grooming tools, raincoats, water and food bowls, leashes and collars and even dog booties. Also, ask about cleaning supplies—sponges, natural cleaners, bleach or scrub mops.

Holiday party or gift exchange donations

Ask friends or co-workers attending a party you’re throwing or are in charge of to instead bring a donation (get a wish list from a shelter and post it) instead of a white elephant gift. You can still draw names and do the trade-steal fun part of these gifting exchanges by setting it up so people can choose from a selection of shelter or rescue groups their chosen gift will end up at after the party.

Meet the Author: Jo Ostgarden

Jo Ostgarden is a former Dog Life columnist, and has helped vet and foster more than 100 dogs with a rescue group in Oregon for the last 15 years. She has a fur child named Nik, a tri-color English Springer Spaniel, whom she walks or runs daily, rain or shine.

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