This Holiday Season, Here Are 5 Ways You Can Help Your Local Shelters

volunteer holds dogs face at shelter

The holiday season is among us, and there are innumerable animal shelters that could use your help. There are lots of ways to make a difference this Christmas season, whether you want to get your hands dirty or give back from the comfort of your own home.

Foster, Foster, Foster

Consider bringing a foster pet into your house for the holidays if you want to have a direct difference. Fostering is critical this time of year, according to Allison Seelig, head of marketing and fundraising for Hearts & Bones Rescue in Dallas and New York City.

"We need someone to step up with so many people traveling for the holidays." Because the number of dogs abandoned in shelters has not dropped, many rescue groups and shelters will require assistance to continue to save pets."

Fostering may literally save an animal's life since the number of foster homes an organization has is typically directly proportional to the number of animals they can save. Shelters normally need a two-to-three-week commitment, although they can usually accommodate your schedule around the holidays. Read more to see whether fostering is suitable for you, then contact local rescue groups to find out about foster possibilities in your region.

Provide a Ride

Organizing transportation for dozens of rescue pets may be a logistical headache, as you might imagine. If fostering isn't a possibility, you may still assist a pet with their adoption by providing transportation between foster homes, to a vet visit, or to an adoption event. Helping these dogs get where they need to go is a modest way to make a huge difference, especially if you live in an area where automobile ownership is scarce––shout out to NYC rescue organizations––

Make a Donation

Holiday-giving can make or break a nonprofit’s fiscal year.

“All of these rescue organizations and shelters rely on donations to be able to do their work,”Seelig said. "This is a really important time for fundraising.”

Instead of typical presents, ask your family and friends to donate to an animal sanctuary in your name this year. Many employers have contribution matching programs, so check to see if there's a simple method to double the effect of what you can donate.

Many shelters require food, toys, beds, and other pet items in addition to monetary donations. If you overspent on pet supplies this year (guilty! ), find a local nonprofit that takes donations or organize a donation drive in your neighborhood to raise supplies on a wider scale.

The Gift of Time

Volunteers are in high need as shelter employees travel for the holidays. While not every shelter offers in-person volunteer opportunities, many rely on them to socialize the animals and prepare them for adoption, especially during the COVID-19 epidemic. "Anything from caressing pets to get them acquainted to people to taking dogs for walks and giving enrichment for them," Seelig continued. Giving back by playing with puppies? Twist our arms, please!

Help Homed Pets in Need

Pets, like humans, may build up astronomically large medical expenses in the blink of an eye. Many pet owners have used online fundraising sites such as GoFundMe to assist pay surgery and treatments for their animals throughout the years. In a perfect world, we'd have universal health care and universal veterinary care, but in the interim, you may brighten someone's Christmas season by assisting them in raising the funds they require.

Spread Holiday Cheer

There are several inventive ways to support your local shelter. For example, Rachel Newman of Columbia, Missouri, collected money for the Central Missouri Humane Society by selling dog-friendly Thanksgiving dinners to coincide with the one-year Gotcha Day of her dog, Johnny.

"I wanted to do something to thank the humane society for everything they done for me and my dog," she explained. On Thanksgiving Day, a Canine Thanksgiving raised $300 in donations, and the meals made for a lot of happy dog smiles.

The Spruce Pets met with people who painted pet pictures to earn money, gave handmade dog biscuits to shelters, and staged dog fashion shows—the opportunities for giving back this holiday season are unlimited.