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Giving Back: Helping Dogs in Need

Charitable Gifts and Other Good Deeds

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Dogs awaiting adoption in kennels
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As a dog lover, you may wonder how you can give something back to help pets in need. Our pets do so much to brighten our lives, don't they deserve the same in return? You can help homeless, sick and unfortunate animals by volunteering your time, donating funds and supplies, or just setting a good example. Here's how to start giving back right now.

Monetary Donations

Animal-focused charity organizations always need funds to achieve their missions. A financial donation, no matter how small, can make a major difference in the lives of animals and people. Start locally by looking into nonprofit groups in your city or state that have missions you agree with. Ideally, donate to a 501(c)(3) organization or other group that you can be sure will use the money responsibly. If you have a favorite dog breed, find a breed-specific rescue group in need of donations. Or, try your local animal shelter or rescue group. If you have friends or family members who are animal lovers, consider making a donation in their name as a gift. Or, make a donation in memory of a pet or loved one who has passed away.

The following list includes just a handful of suitable organizations. There are many more groups out there that can use your help.

  • Angels4Animals - has a mission to serve as the guardian angel of animals whose caretakers find themselves in difficult financial situations
  • ASPCA - helps save pets who has been accidentally poisoned, fights to pass humane laws, rescues animals from abuse and shares resources with shelters across the country
  • Best Friends Animal Society - a grassroots effort to place dogs and cats who were considered "unadoptable" into good homes, and to reduce the number of unwanted pets through effective spay and neuter programs
  • Humane Society of the United States - the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization
  • Muttshack - a volunteer driven organization which focuses animals in disasters
  • North Shore Animal League - the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption shelter
  • Petfinder.com Foundation - works with shelters, rescue organizations and animal welfare organizations across the country to ensure that no adoptable pet is euthanized for lack of a good home
  • The Pet Fund - provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need veterinary care
  • Puppies Behind Bars - trains inmates to raise puppies to become service dogs for the disabled and explosive detection canines for law enforcement
  • Canine Companions for Independence - provides highly-trained assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities, free of charge

Volunteer Your Time

Your time is valuable, so volunteering to help pets in need is truly a selfless act. The funny thing is that the work can end up being so rewarding that it seems like a selfish act. Whether you are rescuing an animal that you found in the street, helping a friend care for a pet, or spending your time helping out at the local shelter, you are making a difference.

To get started, contact an animal shelter or pet rescue group in your area. Find out how you can help, but know your limitations. If you overextend yourself emotionally or physically, then you are not really helping the cause in the long run. Maybe you don't feel comfortable working directly with unfamiliar animals. That's okay. You may be able to help by answering phones, managing the website or even licking stamps. You won't know until you try, so start researching now. A simple web search for pet rescues or shelters in your city is a great place to begin. You can also ask your vet's office or another pet professional to recommend reputable local organizations.

Adopt A Shelter or Rescue Dog

If you are ready for a new dog, think twice before buying one. Your local shelter or rescue group may have the perfect dog just waiting for you. If you have your heart set on a certain dog breed, find a local breed-specific rescue. Adopting one pet can save that pet and possibly others from euthanasia, but it can also create a chain reaction. Tell your friends and family about your experience, and encourage them to adopt a pet instead of purchasing one.

Not sure you want a long-term commitment, but would like a pet in your life? Animal rescue groups are always in need of good foster homes. Opening your home to a foster pet can help that pet become more socialized and accustomed to home living, making the pet more easily adoptable. Who knows, you may even find that you can adopt the pet for your own.

Other Ways to Help

Any little thing you do to benefit animals can make a difference. There are also some specific things you can easily do to help animals - many are even free.
  • Visit The Animal Rescue Site and simply click to give. 100% of sponsor money goes to the cause. You can also make a donation or shop for gifts, clothing and other useful items in their store. Every purchase funds food and care for rescued animals.
  • Go to FreeKibble.com and answer a Bow Wow Trivia question. Right or wrong, they'll provide 10 pieces of kibble to Animal Shelters to help feed their hungry dogs. Visit daily to help the most. You can also make a monetary donation.
  • Organize a local fundraiser and get your community excited about helping pets. You can organize a walk/run, party, car wash, bake sale or other event to raise money for the charity of your choice. See if your place of employment, church or other community group would like to be involved (and see if they can donate the use of their space). Talk to local business owners and ask for their sponsorship and assistance. This can be as big or small a project as you want to make it.

No matter what you decide to do for animals, you will make a difference if your heart is in the right place. Leading by example is one of the best things you can do. Be a responsible dog owner and do what you can to be kind to any animal you encounter. Remember that every little bit helps.

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