6 Items That Your Local Animal Shelter Needs Now (Besides Money)

Visit the website of any animal shelter and you’re likely to find a “wish list” of items that they need to continue providing a safe, comfortable environment for the animals they serve. Chances are you have some of these items around the house, so why not consider packing them up and making a donation? The shelter and the animals will appreciate the help.

1. Bedding and Soft Goods. Every animal needs a comfortable place to sleep, so pet beds and blankets are welcome donations at shelters. Find out what kinds of animals your local shelter takes in and provide beds that meet their needs. Other soft goods such as towels are needed as well, both for the animals and for use in daily cleaning around the shelter.

2. Food. The large numbers of animals taken in by shelters require a lot of food. Think about how much it costs to feed your pets and imagine how much more a shelter needs. Take advantage of sales on pet food to stock up on a little extra for donating. Even if you just have a coupon on hand that could be used to provide a discount, your local shelter can benefit from the savings.

3. Toys. Shelter pets need stimulation just like any other animal, which makes toys perfect items to donate. Sensory toys for cats, soft toys for dogs and distractions such as scratching posts can all be used to keep shelter animals entertained.

4. Cleaning Supplies. Cleaning up after all the animals in a shelter requires a great deal of paper towels, disinfectant and other household cleaning products. These are easy to find and can be picked up during your weekly shopping trip and dropped off at the shelter on your way home. As with pet food, keep an eye out for sales and coupons so you can get even more to donate.

5. Craft Items. It might seem strange to donate old items such as buttons, yarn and gently used clothes to an animal shelter, but some have programs that use these materials to craft new things such as blankets and bedding for their animals. Others repurpose donations and sell them in community auctions or shops specifically established to raise money for the shelter’s needs.

6. Goods to Sell. If your local shelter does have its own shop or holds an occasional rummage sale to raise money, ask them what kinds of items they’re looking for. Everyone has clothes and household necessities that they’re not using, and it’s much better for these to go to a good cause than to sit around your house taking up space. Clean out the closets for anything that’s in good enough condition to be sold, clean it up and turn it over to the shelter so that the animals can benefit from the profits.

6 Essential Tips for Starting Your Own Animal Charity

Giving to charities that help pets and other animals is a great way to show you care, but for some this might not be enough. There may not be an organization that helps animals in your community. Or the one that’s there may not possess the mission and values you hold dear. Whatever the reason, starting your own charity potentially puts you in a position to help more animals and focus on issues you believe in. But it’s not easy, and you should never throw one together without a viable mission, clear focus and reliable support system. Many animal lovers have created a “charity” for the right reasons but with the wrong structure. Do it the wrong way, and you could end up hurting the very animals you intend to help.

The tips below are by no means a comprehensive list of what you need to do to launch a charity. But they can help you hone in on what needs to be done to get started.

Establish Your Focus

Every animal charity has a mission, be it advocacy, rescue, providing shelter and care or helping adoptable animals find homes. Decide where you would like to focus your energy and use that as the foundation on which to build your organization.

Choose a Name

The name of a charity should reflect its activities so that people can immediately recognize its purpose. Use words that clearly convey what you wish to do and that will draw others to want to help your cause. Research your chosen name to make sure it isn’t already taken before moving on to officially establish your charity.

Understand How Nonprofits Work

Charities that accept donations must register as non-profit organizations. There are specific rules that govern the establishment and management of nonprofits, all of which can be researched on the Internet or by reading some of the many books available on the subject. The Society for Nonprofits has an informative website where you can go to learn more about what’s required to establish your charity. You’ll need to know about tax laws, how to choose a board of directors, how to draft bylaws and more.

Set Goals

Think back to the focus you created for your charity and use it to write a mission statement. This should be a brief overview of what motivates you and how you’re looking to help the animals you want to serve. Use the mission statement for guidance as your organization grows.

Think Of It As a Business

Though the financial planning involved in a charity focuses on donations rather than profits, you still need a good head for business. In addition to money, you’ll have to manage time and resources, delegate tasks and run fundraising campaigns. This requires a solid team of volunteers and at least one person who knows how to market your cause in a way that brings in donations.

Budget and Plan

Another similarity between charities and businesses is the need for advanced budget planning. As you start the process of establishing your nonprofit, you’ll gain an understanding of how much money you’ll need to operate in the long term. After making the initial investment for any necessary fees, supplies and equipment, the goal is to run on donations as much as possible. Research the continuing costs of running your charity and create projections of future expenses to guide you in both fundraising and spending over time.

Starting an animal charity clearly takes time and dedication, but if animals in your community need help, then it’s worth the effort.

Surprising Ways Pet Charities Are Helping Our Veterans

Military veterans returning from active duty are coming home from one of the most demanding, stressful and emotionally taxing jobs there is. They may be wounded or carry emotional scars that require time and special care to heal. Many pet charities recognize this need and pair their love of animals with reverence for veterans in programs that bring the two together in positive ways.

Benefits for Veterans

Veterans who are paired with pets through the help of charities benefit in many ways:

  • The company of a pet helps ease the transition from active duty to civilian life
  • Owning a pet has been shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental difficulties
  • Animals “bridge the gap” between people, allowing veterans to make human connections more easily
  • Pets provide unconditional friendship and love
  • Dogs, cats and other animals are fun to have around and make life more enjoyable

Service Dogs

Charities such as Soldier’s Best Friend and Always Faithful Dogs provide service dogs to veterans with both physical and emotional disabilities. Some choose dogs from shelters or rescue abandoned animals, giving them a chance to go through training and help out a human in need. Others breed and train their own dogs with rigorous programs. Veterans are matched with a companion animal that has already been trained or choose their own and go through the training process with them. Both methods provide highly skilled service animals that can help disabled veterans live fuller, more independent lives.

Therapy

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common ailments that returning veterans struggle with. Symptoms such as anxiety attacks and depression can be debilitating and leave sufferers afraid to interact with others. Companion animals give these individuals another living being to care for and that loves them in return. Pets for Vets, Alpha K-9 and Circle of Change are just a few of the charities that bring emotional stability back to struggling veterans by pairing them up with pets. It’s also possible for veterans with PTSD to qualify for a psychiatric service animal that is specially trained to help when the symptoms of the disorder become overwhelming.

Companionship

Pets for Patriots and Dogs 2 Vets are charities that work to help returning service members adopt pets. This benefits both the animals and the veterans by rescuing pets from shelters and giving people loving companions. For those who live alone or struggle with loneliness, a pet offers good company as well as cheer. Others may simply love animals and enjoy having one around as they get used to their daily routines again.

Whether specially trained or just there for support, the animals that pet charities provide to veterans become an integral part of their lives. These lifelong furry companions offer emotional support and physical help beyond what can be given by other people.