There is a well-known quote by Gandhi that says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” So many of us want to be the change for dogs in need, and yet figuring out how to help can seem like a daunting task. So, what can one person do? Below are some concrete steps you can take. Some are small, some big. You needn’t have scads of extra cash. Some of these ideas are time-honored, straightforward ways to help, while others are more creative. Just think about the pawsitive energy that would be generated if each reader this did just one of these things!
1. Volunteer at your local shelter. If you don’t feel comfortable spending time in a shelter environment, participate in community adoption days.
2. Volunteer to take photos of shelter dogs to be put online.
3. Donate blankets, food, or crates to your local shelter or rescue group. Check the organization’s website to see what they need. Spearhead a blanket drive in your community.
4. Take it a step further: Ask if you can post a rescue organization’s wish list to your website, and/or make signs for local pet supply stores. Collect the goods and deliver them.
5. Offer a skill to rescue/shelter dogs: training, massage, energy healing, etc.
6. Donate a Kuranda bed. These beds are made of PVC and cloth, and keep dogs off cold, wet shelter floors. Through the program, you can purchase a bed from the website and have it shipped to your local shelter. I donated one of these to the shelter where I adopted my dog Sierra—why not send one to the shelter where you got your dog, as a thank-you for saving a life?
7. Foster a dog for a rescue organization. Some will even pay for food and medical care while the dog is in your home.
8. Many dogs are in need of temporary shelter. Check into places such as centers for victims of domestic violence where family dogs may need temporary fostering.
9. If you are unable or would prefer not to foster a dog yourself, offer to donate funds to pay for a dog’s care while in a foster home.
When People Need Help, Too:
10. Banfield Trust’s Pet Peace of Mind program provides care to pets of those in hospice. To learn more and find out whether there is a hospice in your area, visit the website.
11. Help people and dogs in need at the same time. Organizations such as PAWS/LA help AIDS patients by delivering dog food and generally assisting with the care of their dogs. Use online search engines to find local organizations.
12. Volunteer to drive dogs of the elderly and disabled to appointments for medical care, etcetera, or become a volunteer dog walker for them—you’ll get the exercise benefits too.
13. Got a talent or product? Donate it for fundraiser raffles.
14. Many homeless people with pets go to food banks for help. Donate dog food to your local food bank.
15. Prefer to donate to a national organization? Check them out on Charity Navigator.
16. Assist your favorite animal charity by having a virtual fundraiser. Use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to spread the word. Websites such as FirstGiving will allow you collect funds online.
17. Do you run a business? Donate a percentage of sales to the dog-related charity of your choice.
18. Have a garage sale—better yet, get your whole community to participate—and donate all or a percentage of the profits.
19. Have a recycling drive. Place bins for cans and bottles in your office, local pet supply shops, etc. and donate the proceeds.
20. Organize a silent auction. Solicit donations from companies and from your community.
21. Spearhead a dog food drive, then donate the collection to your local shelter or food pantry. Get local pet supply businesses involved, too!
22. Create a product (like these great Puppy Mills Bite T’s that I love) and donate a portion of sales to dogs in need.
23. Set up a large box outside pet supply stores and ask for donations of gently used pet items such as bedding, dog toys, etc. Donate to your favorite group.
24. Set up a booth in your community to educate the public about spay/neuter. Refer to low cost spay/neuter clinics in your area. You might also hand out info on how to support the shutting down of puppy mills.
25. Get the word out about puppy mills. Check out Prisoners of Greed, and the Companion Animal Protection Society, which investigates pet shops and puppy mills (both provide education and accept donations).
26. Got an area of expertise? Set up a website and share your knowledge. Or write a blog on training, care, and other positive aspects of the human-dog bond. It’s easy to get set up on WordPress.
27. Write articles for local magazines and newspapers.
28. Do presentations for school kids on the importance of being kind to animals. Bring your own well-trained dog and dazzle ‘em with some cool tricks.
Internet and Social Media:
29. If you’re a web designer, donate your talents to local rescue groups. Help get those dogs online so people can see them!
30. Add a banner link from your webpage to Petfinder to help encourage adoptions.
31. Create a webpage for lost and found animals in your community, and post flyers announcing it at vet’s offices, dog parks, and other places dogs congregate.
32. Post educational material online via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Spread the word on worthwhile causes and campaigns.
33. If you are a trainer, donate your time to write articles or answer questions on dog-related websites.
34. Start a non-profit Pet Taxi service to help shuttle dogs to the vet, etc. for people who are ill or otherwise unable to transport.
35. Start a small rescue group; perhaps a specific breed, small dogs only, senior dogs, etc. If you are a trainer, train the dogs to make them more adoptable. (Now there’s a marketing idea: “Adopt a dog who comes already trained!”
36. Start a non-profit food pantry for dogs of the homeless and others in need.
37. Coordinate with your local cable station to set up a weekly show highlighting dogs in need of homes.
38. Donate canine oxygen masks to your local fire department.
39. Take CPR training for dogs. Extra credit: become certified to teach it.
40. Many rescues need transport, especially when dogs have to be transported from state to state. Do a bit of Googling around to see how you can help.