Recently I posted a comment on Facebook about a couple of rescue groups and shelters being in need of donations. A friend immediately replied that she would be happy to help, but didn’t know what kind of help they needed.
Well, let me help you with that!
What shelters and rescues need:
Adopters and fosters
Every animal adopted from a shelter or rescue makes room for one more incoming animal to have a chance at life. It’s that basic.
Animals have to come out of the shelters and rescues in order to make room for the new ones (who arrive every single day). This is why county and municipal shelters often have no choice but to have maximum times for animals in residence; animals that have been there for “too long” have to be euthanized to make room for the incoming ones. If one goes home with you, that’s one less that dies.
Not in a position to adopt? Shelters and rescues also desperately need foster homes. Foster homes provide a safe place for homeless pets to live, often while they recover from injury, illness, abuse, or neglect. Foster families will tell you that it can be a lot of work, but the reward of returning an animal to physical and emotional health so that he can find a forever home is just immense.
Puppy and kitten season will be upon us directly, and shelters will be begging for people to take extra young babies home to foster; in the shelters, their young immune systems are too vulnerable to disease, which even further reduces their chances of survival.
Shelters and rescues have tremendous expenses. Animals have to be fed, veterinarians have to be paid, shelter employees have to be paid. Shelter facilities, in particular, have very high overhead; think of what they must spend in electricity alone! Rescues spend most of their money in the vet’s office, because rescues usually take the animals with illness or injury that wouldn’t survive the shelter system.
One rescue of my acquaintance just posted that their current vet bill has topped $7000, just to give you an idea of how expensive rescue can be. Adoption fees almost never even cover the cost of basic neutering, vaccination, and maintenance care, let alone any extra care for illness or injury.
As a matter of practicality, cash donations to shelters and rescues are generally tax deductible. Just ask for a receipt. And the majority of groups I am acquainted with have handy Paypal donation buttons on their websites.
Shelters and rescues also love donations of stuff. What kind of stuff, you ask? Beds (washable), towels, blankets, collars, harnesses, leashes, crates, baby gates, playpens, pet safe cleaning supplies, toys, food – these are the most common requests.
A note about the food: while shelters will take what they can get, please, donate decent quality food, not the stuff soaked in red dye to make it look pretty. These animals often come in malnourished and their fragile digestive systems need decent food; the red dye can cause nasty gastric upsets, which in a shelter environment might be the deciding factor between which dog lives or dies at the end of the day. A sick dog, out of necessity, will be put down before a healthy one, to avoid spreading disease in the kennels.
Don’t have money to donate? Donate time. Please. As an example, Montgomery County Animal Shelter (Conroe, Texas) is currently in desperate need of dog walkers. A couple of their best ones are out of town, and that means they are even more short-handed than usual. Dogs who get walked and have regular play time tolerate the shelter environment much better than dogs who spend too much time in cages.
Other services needed: people to wash dogs, answer phones, transport dogs, arrange donations of vet services, do fundraisers, wash the endless loads of towels, feed animals, clean kennels, work at adoption events.
The list of needs is endless. All of these needs have one thing in common. It takes people – lots of people – to help meet these needs, which in turn makes it possible for shelters and rescues to save lives.
How will you help?
Just for your information, these are a few reputable Montgomery County, Texas, groups in need of help: