10 Ways To Help Homeless Dogs, Animal Shelters and Rescues

Animal shelters and rescues help untold numbers of animals find forever homes, usually with limited resources. Here’s how you can help.

  • Adopt a dog

Consider adopting from a local shelter or rescue group. You can search for an available dog near you at Petfinder or Shelter Pet Project. Be sure to check the adoption process, as it varies from shelter to shelter.

  • Donate

Donations made to animal shelters and rescues help cover the costs of daily operations, supplies, staff training, animal housing upgrades, community outreach programs, animal enrichment and much more.

  • Volunteer

If you can’t adopt just now you can still help make life better for animals in your community by volunteering at your local shelter or rescue organization. Do you have experience as a carpenter or electrician? Are you an expert at marketing or dog walking? These skills are valuable.

  • Say thanks

Take a few minutes to express your gratitude to the people who work at your local shelter or rescue groups. Did you adopt a pet from them? Did they provide affordable spay/neuter services? Maybe they helped reunite you with your lost dog or provided behavioral advice that made it possible for your dog to stay in your home. Give them a shout-out on social media, drop off lunch or cookies for the staff and/or mention to municipal leadership what a value they bring to your community.

  • Become a fan

Like and follow your local animal shelters and rescue groups on Facebook, and invite your friends and family to like and follow them too. Also like and follow the Shelter Pet Project, which directs people seeking to adopt a pet to their local shelters and rescues. Engage by sharing and commenting on posts.

  • Get creative

Combine fabric, recyclables and imagination to bring much needed fun into the lives of local shelter and rescue pets. You can fashion cage curtains to help shelter cats get some privacy (and stay healthy) or create attention-grabbing “Adopt-Me” vests to spotlight available pets at adoption events held by shelters and rescues.

  • Make wishes come true

Shelters and rescue groups always need towels, toys and other supplies. Check their websites for wishlists; if they don’t have one, call them to find out what’s in short supply and offer to create an online wishlist for them.

  • Become a foster

Fosters can be lifesavers for dogs who can’t adapt to shelter life, those who need to be nursed back to health and orphaned puppies who need someone to step in for their mom (or whose needs are beyond what busy shelter staff can often provide).

Foster homes are the backbone of many rescue groups—without a strong network of foster providers, rescue groups simply could not take in as many animals. Foster homes can also become adoption ambassadors to friends, family and colleagues who otherwise may not visit the shelter. If you already have pets of your own, fostering is also often very fun for the resident pet.

  • Help at your own home

When outdoors make sure your dogs wear collars and proper ID (a microchip and ID tags) at all times. As soon as you bring them into your family, have all of your pets spayed or neutered. Keep your dogs on leashes when off your property.

  • Help your shelter or rescue make positive changes

The work your local shelter does may be hindered by an outdated animal control ordinance or, for municipal shelters, an inadequate budget. You can help by rallying support from your elected officials and working with shelter and rescue leaders to make necessary changes. If you see or hear anything at your local shelter that concerns you, follow our guidelines for addressing that concern in the most effective way.