Thousands of pets end up at Animal Shelters across the country every year. These animals are either lost, abandoned, or literally discarded at these organizations that basically provide nourishment, medical care, rehabilitation, shelter, attention, the potential to find a new home, and unfortunately sometimes humane destruction. But humane associations are not only helpful to the animals. Humane societies help people too.
The quirky cat lady who can’t feed herself, let alone her collection of a dozen stray cats and the old man headed to the retirement home who is forced to abandon his pug both need humane associations and animal shelters help. So does the family of six who were forced to quickly move to a different apartment — one that doesn’t allow pets. But the people who garden and appreciate the fact the animal shelter takes in stray cats and dogs so they don’t tear up the yard, and the preschool teacher who is happy that there aren’t a pack of dogs spreading disease and making the playground unsafe appreciates animal shelters too. Animal shelters help communities. But many animal shelters struggle constantly to keep up with the costly demands of operations.
This holiday season, here are the ten best gifts to give your local animal shelter:
- Cleaning Supplies — From simple bleach to laundry and dish soap, cleaning supplies are always needed at your local shelter. Hand soap and hand sanitizer are also items appreciated by shelters for those visiting the animals to prevent cage to cage contamination. Brooms, dustpans, and even vacuum cleaner bags are great for shelters because they use all of these things on a daily basis and they wear out quickly! Be sure to call first to find out what items are welcomed.
- A Digital Camera — Essential for adoption purposes, the digital camera gives an animal shelter the means to provide the public with photos of adoptable animal. Petfinder, one of the largest humane hubs online, is a widely-used source for shelters to find potential homes, and when there is a photo of the available pet, that animal can get a lot more inquiries based on appearance alone. If you upgrade your camera, consider letting your local animal shelter have the old one.
- Blankets and Towels — If you have ugly, mismatched towels that you no longer need, consider giving them to your local animal shelter. The pets won’t mind that you spilled a little bleach on them or that they don’t match, and the towels you give might be used during grooming a special pet, a little thing that might give that animal a new lease on life. If you have some sort of retro blanket in the back of your hall closet, consider giving it to the animals in the shelter. When an animal leaves the shelter, another is always waiting to take up the space, and the cement floors of that shelter cell can be cold! Smaller blankets can become cozies for kitties.
- Pet Food — A 20lb bag of pet food may only make a dent in the daily needs of your local animal shelter, but it is a wonderful donation that, when combined with the thoughtful donations of others, helps feed the shelter refugees. Kitten and Puppy food is almost always of the greatest need, but bird food and hamster food are also commonly welcomed. If you would like to donate pet food, be sure to call first to make sure the brand is used by the shelter. Some shelters require specific brands shelter-wide.
- Kennel Cages and Pet Carriers — For offsite adoptions, pet carriers are a necessity. After frequent use, these items can look dull and sustain damage and scratches, so a nice pet carrier is often one of the best gifts for an animal shelter. Typically larger pet carriers are in more demand than the smaller cat-sized ones, but all donations help.
- Treats — Special animals deserve special treatment. Pets who were once used to daily treats are often shocked when the treats suddenly stop. It is a shocking thing to be moved to a shelter, and losing treats in the process can often frustrate animals who are accustomed to receiving snacks. Whether it’s a bag of pig ears or a box of dog biscuits, treats help pets feel more comfortable and bond with shelter volunteers. These items are always in short supply at animal shelters.
- Toys — From tennis balls to furry stuffed mice, pets love toys. If you would like to give plush toys to shelter dogs or cats, be sure they are clean and have no plastic parts like eyes or noses. One-piece or well-sewn plush toys are preferable, as toys with eyes and petite arms and legs can become choking hazards.
- Raffle Items — If you want to donate an item for a raffle or drawing, animal shelters are usually quite grateful. Whether you have an antique book that you’d like to offer for the next shelter fundraiser or a brand new set of china, basket raffles and silent auctions are common ways that animal shelters raise funds to care for their residents. Be sure to ask before donating an item for a silent auction to find out when the next event will be held.
- Pet Care Items — From doggie nail clippers to ear mite medicine, animal shelters are always in need of pet care items. Some of the items on many humane shelter wish lists are: flea preventative, collars, harnesses, and leashes, pet nail trimmers, ear cleaner, flea powder for carpeted areas, bitter apple spray (to discourage fur biters), and pet dishes.
- Time — You can never have enough volunteers for an animal shelter, because volunteers have life changes and get burned out quite often. A volunteer can visit with the kitties or walk a dog or two and make a world of difference for the shelter. Volunteers can also help with website maintenance, offsite adoptions, and fundraiser events. Out of all the gifts you can give a shelter, time is the one gift most needed.
This holiday season as you are buying a stocking for your Beagle, think about the pets in the animal shelter. Supporting your local animal shelter is about more than just showing compassion for animals; it’s showing that you care about the community too. If you want to give a monetary donation, this is one of the most worthwhile causes to give to. Happy Holidays!