How to Help Shelter Pets This Holiday Season

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The Christmas season is finally here and what better way to spread a little love and joy than to help an animal in need? Thousands of animals this holiday season will spend the most magical time of the year in a shelter awaiting their forever homes. However, you can help them and their caretakers have a great Christmas by partaking in some of the kind acts on this list and bring the holiday spirit to life for animals everywhere!

1. Donate, Donate, Donate!
Most shelters run on generous donations from the public, and the holiday season is an especially important time to donate. Many shelters and rescues see an increase in animal surrenders around the holidays, and any amount of money you can spare will help with the buying of food, medicine, and other accommodations for the animals. However, it’s not all about the cash! If you’re feeling a little tight in the wallet, consider donating used toys, leashes, beds, blankets, or towels. Even empty peanut butter jars and old toilet paper rolls are appreciated. For a full list of items that can be donated, check your local shelter’s online ‘wish list’ or give them a call to ask what they’re most in need of. Even a small donation can have a big impact for an animal in need!

2. Volunteer
Everyone is busy around the holidays but if you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands, consider volunteering for your local animal shelter! Volunteers serve as the lifeblood for busy shelters who might not have the money or means to accomplish every task that needs to get done on a daily basis. Spend time walking some dogs outside or socializing with the cats. Ask if you can clean cages, give baths, or do laundry. If you have a special skill like carpentry or sewing, seek out ways this can benefit the shelter and then put your talent to the test. Even if you only have an hour or two to spare on the weekends or after work, any amount of time spent helping homeless pets is time well spent!

3. Shop Smart
Odds are that when you begin your holiday shopping you’re going to be doing a lot of it online. Luckily, there are ways that simply sitting down and opening your computer or phone can help to benefit shelter pets! Websites like will actually take a percentage of your purchase and donate it to a charity of your choice, many of which are animal related. You can also choose to seek out local or small businesses which specifically make and sell items related to animals or animal care. Many online sellers on Etsy or Ebay will donate a portion of their sales to their local animal rescues or charities, especially around the holidays. Buying great gifts for your friends and family while also giving back to your community? It’s a win-win for all!

4. Trade Gifts for Donations
One big way you can make a difference for homeless pets this Christmas is to ask for donations to your local animal shelter in lieu of presents. Rather than unwrapping another pair of socks, consider asking your friends and family to donate the money they would have spent on you to an animal shelter or rescue in your name. Even if you only ask to replace one present per person you can make a big difference, especially if you have a large or extended family. Encourage others in your clan to do the same or, simply put, purchase the gift yourself! You might just start a trend of holiday donation giving!

5. Consider Fostering
Adopting a pet is an important and serious decision, one that takes time, commitment, and lots of consideration. However, if you’re not able to make that long-term commitment right now, consider something more temporary. Fostering an animal from a shelter or rescue is a very rewarding experience, especially around Christmas time. Shelters often see an increase in animal surrenders during the holidays and the more fosters they have to take a pet home, the more space opens up for more pets to come in. Plus, it gives the animal you’re fostering the experience of being in a home and feeling that special bond of love and affection while they wait for their perfect family. What better way is there to help a homeless pet this season?

6. Share the Love
Much of our modern world and personal lives takes place online, and shelters are no different. Since so many people nowadays communicate through social media sights and email, it’s important for shelters and rescues to post their fundraisers, events, and adoption profiles through these media channels. By simply going online and liking or sharing these updates with your friends and family, you can help spread the word on homeless pets and possibly get them adopted faster. The more traffic shelters can get on their websites, the better chance an animal has of finding it’s forever home and spending Christmas with it’s new family!

7. Keep it Going all Year Round
Christmas is the perfect time of year for going above and beyond and giving a little extra, but the truth is that shelters need help all year round. According to the ASPCA’s official intake tracker, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters every year nationwide. That’s a lot to care for! However, with the help of people like you who foster, donate, volunteer and, of course, adopt, these shelters help change the lives of all these animals for the better. If you want to keep that Christmas feeling going all year round, helping out your local animal rescue would be a great place to start. Plus, we’re pretty sure you’ll make it to the top of Santa’s nice list!

Helping out a homeless pet this season can be as simple as sharing their profile online, or as involved as fostering until their forever family finds them. Whichever way you choose to help, however, just know that you’re making a big difference in the life of an animal in need. We think there’s no better gift than that!

Ready to join the pack?