Many people love animals and want to help more, but become overwhelmed at not knowing how to help when there are so many pets in animal shelters. The answer is, you only need to make a small difference, and if more people did just that, it would make a huge difference. There are many ways you can make a difference to the lives of the pets in the shelter.
Become a Volunteer
First and foremost, never say "I cannot go to the shelter, it is too sad.". In reality it is only sad when nobody comes. Even if the people are not there to adopt a pet, the animals enjoy the contact and attention that the staff may not have time to provide. Volunteering to play with the cats, or walk the dogs, is a wonderful thing you can do. The small caged animals need attention too. Shelters need volunteers for other jobs, as such if you offer to fold the laundry, I am sure they would appreciate it. Some shelters have volunteers that clean cages, while others only allow paid staff to do those jobs, as such the volunteer positions will vary depending on your shelters needs.
Do not forget most shelters are run by a Board of Directors, these are volunteer positions. They need people with accounting skills and so forth. Most shelters hold fund raising events and can always use help with these.
Bringing in donations helps the shelter to save money. It is important that if you are going to buy something for the shelter that you buy something they can actually use. Some shelters will not use plastic food bowls, but because plastic cannot be properly disinfected, they use stainless steel bowls instead. You can phone in advance and ask what types of items your shelter needs. They may prefer a specific food brand, or might need simple office and cleaning supplies. Of course cash donations are always welcome. Some donations do not cost anything, old towels and blankets can be used in the kennels.
Help with Fund Raising
Most animal shelters hold regular fund raisers. You can ask to help with fund raising. Never hold a fund raiser in the name of shelter, without their permission or involvement. Some suggested fund raisers are: Silent Auctions, Garage Sales, "Pet Shows", Car washes, and bake sales.
Look After Your Own Pets
A huge way of helping your local animal shelter is by caring for the pet you have. Making sure it is spayed or neutered and stays in your yard at all times. Sadly one of the largest contributing factors to the number of pets euthanized is the number of kittens and puppies born every year. People think that just because they found homes for their kittens it is okay to let their cat breed, however every home that they found for their kittens, means one shelter pet did not find a home.
Spread the Word
Spreading the word to other people to encourage them to spay and neuter, donate, or volunteer, is a great way to help your local shelter. You can write letters to your local newspaper for publication, or just encourage friends and neighbors to consider shelter pets when they are looking for a new family member. Every little bit helps and a lot of people doing little bits, will add up to big bits.