There are myriad ways to help your local shelter or rescue.
There are, thankfully, about 12,000 animal welfare organizations in the U.S., all working hard to rescue animals and find them forever homes. These facilities usually have a small core of professionals and rely heavily on volunteers to fill out the staff and thus can always use extra help.
Of course, there are the everyday tasks of feeding and cleaning up after the pets in their care. Of course, fostering pets at home plays an important role in the animal’s general well-being and ultimately adoptability, too. But there are also so many others ways you can help. Such as by putting your own personal skills and professional knowledge in a particular field to work.
If you are computer savvy you can offer to run the group’s website. Having a strong online presence really helps to get pets adopted. If you have great photographic skills, you can volunteer to take pictures for the pet profiles. A really good photograph can make a huge difference.
If you are hands-on in the carpentry, painting and other typical handyman departments, such skills can certainly be put to good use on an ongoing basis. If you’re good with numbers—accountants and bookkeepers take note—you can volunteer to help keep financial records and there are always legal issues to be resolved.
Here is more good news: Volunteering at a particular shelter can literally pay off big time. Many prominent pet product companies recognize volunteer work by donating to the shelters where they help out.
Case in point: For more than 10 years, Liz Taranda has volunteered thousands of hours helping cats at the Clifton Animal Shelter in N.J., feel comfortable and find forever homes. In honor of her dedication, Liz was chosen as the Shelter Volunteer of the Year in a contest organized by Purina Cat Chow.
Her prize? In recognition of her dedication to the shelter cats, the Clifton Animal Shelter will receive a $25,000 makeover to help improve its cat adoption areas.
Purina Cat Chow asked its 50 shelter partners—one in every state—to nominate their best volunteer, the one who spends countless hours providing additional support to lessen the stress on the cats and kittens in the shelter’s care while they await forever homes. Consumers nationwide voted for their favorite volunteer story daily. Consumer votes and a judging panel determined the top shelter volunteer and four runners-up. More than 272,000 votes were cast in support of the 50 shelter volunteers. The runner-up volunteers earned $5,000 each for their particular shelters, too.
In fact, The Purina Cat Chow Shelter Volunteer of the Year Contest donated nearly $100,000 in cash donations, cat food and cat care supplies among the 50 participating shelters in recognition of their volunteers. Every participating shelter received a $1,000 donation, Purina® Cat Chow® Gentle Formula brand food and cat care supplies.
If you volunteer, keep an eye out for such competitions too. It’s an all-round win-win.
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats