As you give thanks for your beloved pets today, remember shelter pets and the people who work hard to improve their lives and find homes for them. Economic turmoil has caused an increase in the number of pets surrendered to shelters. Pet parents facing foreclosure, job loss, a health crisis, or some other personal financial disaster have chosen to give up their pets in ever greater numbers, creating an enormous burden on animal rescue organizations. To make matters worse, donations are down for the same reasons. Some organizations have reported receiving over 30% fewer dollars in donations than average so far this year.
You can help homeless pets and rescue organizations have more things for which to be thankful this holiday. Here are a few suggestions.
If your family is weathering the economic crisis well, and if you have room in your home and family for another pet, there’s never been a better time to adopt. Increased surrender rates mean increased euthanasia rates at shelters. Pets that would ordinarily be considered highly adoptable may be put to sleep this winter due for lack of space.
Remember, if you perceive adoption as a poor option for your family, you may simply have fallen for one of the many common myths about pet adoption. If you’re looking for another pet, whether it’s a ferret or a purebred Boston Terrier, you can probably find the right match available for adoption at a shelter near you.
Do Some Holiday Shopping for a Shelter
If you’ll be joining the doorbuster-fueled retail frenzy on Black Friday, consider meeting some of your favorite animal welfare organization’s needs. Some retailers have great specials on items that are useful to animal shelters. For example, Ace Hardware will be offering a large pet bed for $9.99. Other retailers might have useful items like blankets, dog toys, or paper towels (these are always needed, but rarely donated) at steep discounts.
Rescues and shelters also need items that aren’t directly related to pet care. If you’re able to splurge to help homeless pets, consider purchasing a sale-priced color printer, digital camera, digital camcorder, or computer. All of these items help pets reach their forever homes more quickly. Good-quality pictures or videos of adoptable pets, placed on websites like Petfinder where people will see them, go a long way toward recruiting enough adopters to get every pet rehomed successfully.
Once you’ve slept off the tryptophan after a big turkey dinner, consider looking into volunteer opportunities near you. Even if you’re allergic and must carefully limit your exposure to pets, the holiday season means many shelters need volunteers for tasks that don’t even require contact with animal fur or dander. Most shelters host holiday fundraisers, like a gift-wrap table at bookstores or a Yuletide ball.
If you can have direct contact with animals, you’re always needed for important tasks at shelter facilities like petting cats, walking dogs, cleaning kennels, and more. You could also become a foster parent for a pet in need of special attention. Very young or old pets often need foster homes in order to thrive and be adoptable. Pets with special needs, like deafness or arthritis, also do better in foster homes than shelters.