October is officially Adopt a Shelter Dog month, and we’re so glad it is. By all means, if you have the time, space, and love in your heart, you should go out to your local animal shelter and start the adoption process.
Adopting a shelter dog is an extremely rewarding thing to do. You’ll not only get to enjoy the wonderful reality of pet parenting, but you’ll also be saving not one, but two animals. You’ll save your new pooch, and you’ll be freeing up space in the shelter so that it can then save another dog!
But what if you aren’t able to adopt? There are many reasons why a person is unable to properly care for a pet, and good for you if you understand that you might not be in the proper place or time in your life to adopt.
The good news is, there are still plenty of ways to help. We sat down to chat with Jordan Karcher, founder and CEO of Grounds & Hounds, a fair-trade specialty organic coffee company that supports rescue initiatives and organizations that give dogs a second chance by donating 20% of all profits to the cause.
Jordan was generous with his time and helped us pinpoint some great ways that anyone can be impactful to help shelter pets, even if they are unable to adopt.
1. Foster a Dog
Perhaps you would love to adopt, but you travel too much for work and don’t have alternative care options. If that is the case, short-term fostering might be the right option for you. Most animal shelters are overflowing with animals, and space is limited. You can help by agreeing to take home an animal for a short period of time. Usually, animals are adopted within one to three weeks, so if you can just keep a dog safe until his fur-ever family comes along, you’ve done a great service indeed!
Fostering is also wonderful because it can help a shelter better understand a dog who needs placement. After you foster, you will be able to provide feedback about your foster pet to the shelter. Maybe you found out he’s great with children but not so excellent with other dogs. This information is important and helps the shelter to match the dog with its proper family.
2. Volunteer at a Shelter
There are a million things to do at an animal shelter on any given day, and the more hands to help, the better. Dogs need to be fed, walked, and cuddled. Crates and cages need to be cleaned. The facility itself may need to be organized and cleaned. It takes a dedicated group of people constantly working hard to keep a rescue up and running. If you have the desire to help, there will be something for you to do.
Call around to local animal shelters to find out what they need. They may have enough volunteers this month but may need you next month. Or they may know of another shelter that could use you. If you love dogs, roll up your sleeves and get to work!
3. Donate Money and/or Supplies
Can you spare $25 this month? How about $5 a week? Putting up some funds is a great way to help a rescue organization, as the expenses are endless. If you’d prefer to donate items, the list is also endless. Here are some commonly needed items:
That’s just a short list. LA Animal Services posts a full list of needs for itself and several other shelters.
4. Buy Products From Brands With a Social Impact Structure
There are plenty of companies that aren’t doing things solely for profit. They also have social impact initiatives structured into their business models. Companies like Grounds & Hounds, which donates 20% of its profits to animal rescue organizations, are really making an impact on the lives of shelter animals. By purchasing the delicious coffee from Grounds and Hounds, for example, you are making a difference!
Look for other companies who prioritize social and humanitarian causes. You can make a change just by shopping, and the start of the holiday season is a great time to do just that!
5. Engage With Local Rescue Organizations on Social Media
You don’t have to be famous to help animal shelters get the word out about dogs who need to be adopted, but we’re all glad when celebs like Kristen Bell use their platforms to do just that.
You too can share adoptable pets in your area with your network of friends, family, and work colleagues. You never know who is in the market for a sweet new pal, and you might help facilitate a match by making more people aware of animals who are available for adoption in their neck of the woods!
6. Speak Up When Friends Mention Shopping for a New Pet
We’ve all been there. A friend starts talking about the desire for a new pet but is very honed in on one specific breed and thinks the only way to get that breed is to buy it through a pet store or breeder. There are myriad reasons why shopping for dogs is ill-advised, but the goal is not to shame your friends or family who are in the market for a puppy Labradoodle or Frenchie.
Just let them know that there are many breed-specific rescue organizations that can help to match them with the pooch of their dreams. It also doesn’t hurt to remind your loved ones how many homeless and displaced dogs are out there just waiting to be saved from a shelter!
7. Remind People Why Mutts Rule!
Dogs aren’t status symbols. They are family members. Sure, purebred dogs can be adorable, but do you know who else is adorable? Mutts! Not only that, but mutts tend to be healthier than purebred animals and are less predisposed to some genetic disorders, including cataracts and hypothyroidism.
Mutts are just as loyal, lovable, and adorable as any purebred pooch out there, and there are so many just sitting in shelters, waiting for someone to give them a chance.
For more information on dog adoption, check out the ASPCA website.