10 Tips to Show Appreciation to Animal Shelters

What better way to start off the new month than to celebrate those who help our furry friends! November 3-9 is National Animal Shelter and Rescue Awareness Week, a week devoted to the near 3,500 animal shelters nationwide. Started in 1996 by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), National Animal Shelter and Rescue Awareness Week is a great opportunity to give thanks and show love to local shelters and rescue groups. Maybe you adopted a pet from a shelter in the past or are currently in search of a new family member. Perhaps you are just personally concerned for the wellbeing of the estimated 6 to 8 million homeless animals in our country. Whatever the case, there are plenty of ways, big and small, to show your gratitude this week!

Justin Mey plays with puppies at Guam Animals in Need Shelter

Justin Mey plays with puppies at Guam Animals in Need Shelter

Popular online pet-search database, Petfinder*, has some helpful suggestions on what you can do this week to celebrate the cause. Ways to Show Your Appreciation for Animal Shelters and Rescues

  1. Adopt a Best Friend. Animals make great companions, but having a pet is a big responsibility and it involves a lifelong commitment. Find out if you have what it takes to provide a safe and loving home and learn more about adopting from your local animal shelter. When you’re ready to adopt go to www.petfinder.com. to find pets in your area.
  2. Take a Tour. Never been inside an animal shelter? Take an hour or two out of your day to stop by your local shelter during public hours and see firsthand how things work. If you’d like to become more involved, find out how you can become a volunteer. Allison Miller, a volunteer at the Lancaster County Humane League in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, uses her skills as a graphic designer to produce the shelter newsletter and other publications. “The staff is absolutely wonderful and greatly appreciative, and I absolutely love what I do.”
  3. Keep on Giving. Many animal shelters struggle financially so every penny helps. Donating to your local shelter is as simple as writing a check and dropping it in the mail or picking up an item on the shelter’s wish list during your next shopping trip.
  4. Connect with Kids. Help children learn about the importance of being kind to animals. Find out how easy it is to educate—whether it’s an entire classroom or a single child.
  5. Be Committed. Providing quality food, water and shelter is important, but it’s not the only thing involved in being a responsible and caring pet guardian. It’s also essential that your pet has current identification tags and is properly confined or supervised while outdoors. Keep your pet healthy and up-to-date on all vaccinations by visiting the veterinarian regularly and give your pet lots of love and attention.
  6. Expect the Unexpected. Local shelters are most often on the front lines during natural disasters such as hurricanes. Would you know what to do in the event of a flood, tornado or fire? Learn how to help animals in your community, including your own pet, whether it’s a disaster, an emergency or an accident.
  7. Stay Alert. Your local animal shelter and animal control agency not only take in homeless animals, but also rescue injured, abused or neglected critters. Assist them by helping injured animals in your neighborhood, and letting them know if you suspect animal cruelty in your community.
  8. Spread the Word. Does the community that your local shelter serves understand and appreciate the shelter’s dedication to animals? Tell your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors about the importance of supporting animal shelters and their staff.
  9. Do Your Part. Spaying or neutering your pet is one of the most important things you can to reduce the number of homeless pets in your community. Jennifer Thompson of Dayton, Maryland, helped to ease her local shelter’s burden by offering to have a barn cat spayed at her expense. “Spaying and neutering your pet is important because it helps keep the animal population down. Our shelters are already overcrowded with unwanted pets.” Learn more about why spaying/neutering is important and how you can find affordable options.
  10. Two Simple Words. The words “thank you” are powerful. But since animals can’t speak, it’s up to community members to let shelter workers know just how much their commitment to animals is appreciated. Send a letter, card or e-mail to your local shelter and let them know you care.

Have a happy National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week and be sure to thank all those who love and care for the wonderful animals awaiting their forever homes! *Suggestions authored by Rebecca Simmons, Outreach Communications Coordinator for the Humane Society of the United States Companion Animal department.