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Have a passion for animals? Try volunteering at a local animal shelter!

Updated on February 26, 2014
Everyone needs a helping hand...including animals!
Everyone needs a helping hand...including animals!

Your Local Animal Shelter and Your Role

Animal shelters are always on the look out for loving, passionate, and caring volunteers to step up to the plate and help out homeless animals across the United States as well as many other countries. Animal shelters are constantly battling with many difficulties such as little to no spare kennels, running low on cleaning supplies, running low on volunteers, and not being able to supply the many dogs and cats with food, medical supplies, and other essential needs. This hub is going to take you step by step as to what you could possibly do to help out your local animal shelter!

Basic Volunteer Work

Volunteer work is no easy task especially if it is at an animal shelter! Depending on how they run the show you will have certain things to do at the shelter. You may have to walk dogs, bathe them, clean kennels, or even play with them! Some of you might be wondering "Well, what if I am not a dog person?" No worries there! Many animal shelters are overloaded with people bringing in stray cats. Most shelters are actually more overwhelmed with cats than they are with dogs! If you are not a dog person simply ask the shelter's owner or manager if there is a designated cat area that you could work in. You may be in charge of feeding them, cleaning litter boxes, and just keeping them company! I will admit, working with cats is a lot smoother than handling dogs. Either way, many animal shelters offer you different choices of what kind of volunteer work you want to do while you are there.

Unable To Volunteer? Donate Items Instead!

Many people are simply unable to dedicate any time to volunteer work, and that is understandable. Many are working long hours, come home to their families and have to continue to work at home to keep a stable household together. If you are unable to dedicate spare time to volunteer work there are still options available to you in which you could help your local shelter!

  1. Many people have dogs and cats for pets. We are usually buying our pets newer items every so often, such as dog and cats beds, toys, blankets, and much more! Why not give your older or spare pet items to animal shelters? It is a great way to contribute and you don't even have to spend much time at the shelter! Call your local animal shelter and ask if they are in need of any pet supplies. Ask them if they could use older toys that are not chewed or ruined, or ask them if they need any older blankets or sheets for the animals to sleep on.
  2. Cleaning supplies are always in demand at shelters. Most shelters try their hardest to keep their environments clean and sanitary for the animals, volunteers, and guests that come to the shelter looking to adopt! You could gather up some old rags and even make a quick stop at the dollar store to buy some cleaning supplies for your local shelter.
  3. If you have some spare time on your hands you could always try to hold a fundraiser, auction, or even have a yard sale to collect money for an animal shelter. Most of the time animal shelters run severely low on cash. Since gaining cash is such an issue, the animals tend to suffer at times. Shelters are in constant need of good hearted people lending a hand with their money issues so they do not run out of food and medical supplies the animals need.

Your best friend doesn't always have to be human
Your best friend doesn't always have to be human

Have You Considered Becoming A Foster Parent?

In most cases, animal shelters are usually looking for people to foster or house dogs and cats for them. What tends to happen within the shelter walls are that they easily run out of room and can no longer hold anymore animals. Sometimes they will even get older pets that can not be in close vicinity to other animals for numerous reasons. If you are open to letting a foster pet into your home this may be the ideal way for you to help your shelter! Contact a shelter close to your home and ask them what their policy is on fostering animals. You most likely will be able to choose how long you are able to foster that certain pet. While that animal is with you, it is YOUR responsibility. Therefore, you are in charge of feeding, cleaning, and housing this animal until it is time to take them back to the shelter. It may seem like a lot of work, but it is very rewarding. Many people find their "furever" friends that way! Almost half of foster parents end up adopting the animal they chose to foster!

Stop animal abuse
Stop animal abuse

Be A Voice For Those Who Can Not Speak

Not only are animal shelters bringing in stray cats and dogs, but they are also rescuing these animals from many other terrible situations such as animal hoarders and abusive and neglectful pet owners. If you happen to see a dog or a cat suffering from neglect or abuse, do not waste any time! Pick up your phone and call your local animal shelter. Let them know that you have witnessed an act of animal abuse or neglect and that you would like to report it. They may or may not ask you for the person's address, name, and phone number. Once the shelter has this information they will take legal action in rescuing the animal. No animal should suffer because of someone's ignorance. There are also many signs that an animal is being neglected or abused, such as:

  • Being tied up outside for more than 2 hours in any weather condition
  • If the animal seems too aggressive, afraid, or nervous
  • If the animal looks frail and skinny, or if you can see it's ribs and other bones
  • If the animals fur is matted or covered with mange
  • If the animals fur is balding or missing
  • If the animal has deep cuts around it's throat, legs, or waist
  • If there is an excessive amount of fleas, ticks, or other parasites that are visible to the human eye, covering the animal

These are very clear signs that the animal has been abused, beaten, or neglected. Waste no time in contacting authorities if you happen to see anything like this.

Don't Shop, Adopt!

In most cases people want to purchase a puppy or a kitten when they decide to get a pet. Not many people want to choose an older pet that has already had a home. However, did you know that you're helping your animal shelter out even more buy adopting from them? Not only are you saving that animal's life, but you are also saving another animal's life by opening up kennel space at the shelter. Puppies and kittens are very cute I won't lie, but there are so many adult cats and dogs that are needing homes. Age is only a number and your best friend doesn't have to be a puppy or a kitten when you get them. Take some time and think about your options before you rush out and purchase an animal. Ask your shelter if you are able to tour the place and view all the animals that they have. They will be more than happy to show you around and give you information on any animal you may be interested in. Some adult animals are lucky enough to be placed in "No-kill" shelters, however the rest are not as lucky. If those kill shelters do not have the room for the animal, or if they can not get them adopted, then sadly they euthanize these innocent souls. Save a life! Don't shop, but adopt!


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    • Caleb DRC profile image

      Caleb DRC 3 years ago

      Hi Kate,

      I thank God He, in my opinion, keeps raising up another generation of warriors who have the love and courage to fight for the benefit of animals. Motivated by love they are willing to get out of their comfort zone to alleviate the suffering of so many animals from the bloodthirsty cowards who abuse them, and from the thoughtless and heartless simpletons who neglect them.

      You have some excellent suggestion here, and I will share this hub and your suggestions with others. You are correct that some people do not have the time to volunteer, but collectively we most certainly do have the time; we have 2,000,000,000( 2 billion) hours of discretionary time! And that is for each and every day of the year. Oh how I wish that there were more lovely people as yourself who will cut back on their average 5 hours per day of watching the idiot box to be pro active to extirpate cruelty, neglect and suffering