New Years resolutions for animal lovers: #4 – Volunteer

Walking dogs is just one task you can do at the shelter.

If you’re looking for ways to make 2012 a better year for both you and your animals, here is resolution #4 for animal lovers: Volunteer!

I have a lot of animal loving friends who tell me they can’t even consider volunteering at a shelter, because they don’t know if they could handle seeing what happens to animals that don’t find homes. I understand. I saw a lot of sad things during the year I volunteered at our local animal shelter.

 But there are lots of other things you can do to help animal causes:

Hold a food drive. In a struggling economy, families in financial straits often have to give up their pets because they can’t continue to care for them. Why not hold a pet food drive and collect donations for your local shelter and food cupboards? They can in turn help out struggling families and their pets – which helps the animals stay with their families instead of ending up in shelters.

Let your pet do therapy. Research shows that people with pets experience lots of health benefits, from lower stress to lower cholestrol. Why not consider doing pet therapy? You and your dog or cat (or even bunny or ferret!) can visit nursing homes or hospitals to spend time with people who can’t otherwise have pets. You can work through an organization like Therapy Dog International to get certified. Or, if you don’t have a pet, you can see if your local animal shelter has an animal therapy program where they take shelter animals to visit schools or nursing homes!

Volunteers from a local shelter at an event at the baseball park, sharing information about dogs available for adoption.

Volunteer at a rescue fundraiser. Whether you participate in a walk or run or man a booth at an event, your local rescue groups can use your help. You’ll help animals and meet new people!

Protesters at an event to boycott a California pet store that sold puppies from a puppy mill.

Join an activist group. If you have a desire to get involved in local politics or activism, consider working with a group to help change laws, stop the sale of puppy mill dogs, or otherwise help animals in your community. You might help by circulating petitions, protesting, or working with your town or village council on animal policies.

Not comfortable working directly with animals? There is lots of laundry to do at the shelter!

Foster an animal. If you have room in your home, why not foster a dog or cat (or guinea pig or bird or other critter)? When a shelter takes in an animal, it houses it at its facility. But rescue groups don’t have facilities; they rely on people just like you to take in an animal until a home is found. The rescue typically takes care of the vaccinations and veterinary care, as well as offering training. You treat the animal like it’s part of your family, so that when a furever family is found, the pet is ready to go!

Volunteer at a shelter. Honest, volunteering at your local shelter is a great way to help animals, whether you walk dogs, file papers, clean cages or just play with the kittens. Most municipal shelters are understaffed and underfunded, and they’re always happy for the help, even if its just to do laundry or wash food dishes. Plus, it’s a great way to experience careers in the field of animal care and learn more about your local animal community.


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