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.


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.


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.

Love Animals? Here’s How to Become a Shelter Volunteer

If you love working with animals, volunteering at a local shelter is a great way to help out in your community. Most shelters rely on the help of dedicated volunteers to stay up and running and would be glad to have you on board.

Tips for Finding Local Shelters

To get started, locate shelters in your area by doing on online search, such as through PetFinder.com. Find the ones within reasonable traveling distance and write down the contact information. Some organizations feature information about volunteering on their websites while others require a phone call to find out about how they handle the process. Make sure that their mission goals mirror your own.

Discover What a Shelter Needs

Start contacting shelters using the information you gathered. Ask volunteer positions they have to see how your skills match up. You might be surprised at the variety of positions that volunteers can fill at a shelter. In addition to taking care of the animals, volunteer positions may include:

  • Adoption counselors
  • Veterinary assistants
  • People to help with behavioral training
  • Secretarial or office workers
  • Helpers to clean the facility
  • Webmasters or social media gurus
  • Pet foster parents
  • Outreach and event coordinators

Learn the Application Process

Once you know what you can help out with at the shelter, you’ll need to fill out an application. Find out if there is one general volunteer application or if the shelter has different forms for specific positions. You may be able to fill out the form online at the shelter’s website. If you’re accepted after the processing period is over, the shelter may require you to attend a training session before you start work.

Find New Ways to Help

As you help out around the shelter, you may discover other areas where they could use a hand. For example, social media is becoming a bigger part of raising awareness of pets available for adoption. Taking high-quality photos of the shelter’s animals and posting them to social channels as well as to the shelter website helps draw attention. If your talents lie in these areas, offer to lend a hand in boosting visibility. If you’re the in-person type when it comes to social events, you can get involved with existing community outreach programs at the shelter or offer to set up a new one.

Enjoy the Benefits

Working in a shelter environment puts you in with a group of people who care about animals as much as you do. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie of others who share your interests and the joy in knowing that you’re helping animals to find loving homes. Volunteering is also good experience, especially for young people who are looking to expand their skill sets. It introduces you to new people and new situations, helps you learn how to handle different responsibilities and is also a lot of fun.

American Humane Society Guidelines for Animal Adoption

The American Humane Society (AHS) estimates that approximately three to four million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters annually. To ensure that these pets get the best homes possible, the AHS has established adoption guidelines for animal shelters. These recommendations provide guidance on making the pet adoption process attractive for individuals and families and on establishing a positive relationship with the local community.

During the Intake Process

The AHS recommends obtaining as much information as possible on any pets surrendered to the animal shelter. Age, breed, veterinary history, behavioral issues and exposure to children and other animals can all be helpful in finding a new home for the dog or cat. The history and background of stray animals may not be available; in these cases, shelter personnel should make their best educated guess regarding the age, breed and medical condition of the pet during the intake process.

Veterinary Care

After the initial intake process has been completed, dogs and cats should be given a thorough physical examination to determine their state of health. If the dog or cat has not been spayed or neutered, that procedure may be performed at this time or at a later point during the pet’s stay at the shelter. Weight, temperature and general physical appearance should be noted. Tests for feline leukemia, heartworms, tapeworms and other common illnesses should also be performed before introducing the pet into the larger animal shelter environment.

Determining Adoptability

While many animals have a good chance of finding a home with a loving family, some dogs and cats are unlikely to be attractive candidates for adoption:

  • Older animals are notoriously hard to place and may be traumatized by the stress and noise of the shelter.
  • Aggressive or biting dogs and cats are not considered suitable candidates for adoption.
  • Pets that are overly shy may reduce their chances of appealing to an adoptive family.
  • Behavioral issues can significantly reduce the chance of adoption for dogs and cats.
  • Bully breeds are banned in many municipal areas and are often targeted for euthanasia due to the lack of homes available for these large and powerful dogs.

Depending on the shelter, animals that cannot be placed in a home may be euthanized or passed on to local groups who specialize in foster care and rehabilitation for these animals.

Increasing the Appeal of Adoption

The AHS suggests enhancing shelter décor with individual pet beds and toys to increase the comfort level of dogs and cats and to boost their chances of being selected for adoption. Assigning names to each of the adoptable pets can also improve their chances of finding an adoptive home. Ensuring that pet areas are clean, odor-free and inviting is one of the most effective ways to attract potential adoptive families and boost the reputation of the shelter in the local community.

Increasing the number of pets adopted by loving families can potentially reduce the number of euthanizations that occur each year. Encouraging responsible pet ownership and promoting spaying and neutering programs can help to reduce the overpopulation problem and can help shelters work more effectively on behalf of the animals in their care.

Seven Tips for Adoptive Pet Parents

Choosing to adopt a pet from a shelter is a solid investment in future love and happiness. A few simple techniques can help you to ensure the right start on the path to successful pet ownership and can help your new companion feel more at home during the first weeks after adoption.

Take It Easy

Your new pet will need a few weeks of peace and quiet to adjust to the new surroundings. Keep in mind that most shelters are loud and uncomfortable places, especially for shy or less confident animals. Providing your pet with a calm and stress-free environment can help set the stage for a lifetime of happiness.

Make Allowances

Even the best-behaved pets can have accidents, act out or generally exhibit behavioral problems when introduced to a new environment. Making some allowances for these behaviors can help your pet to feel more secure and less likely to behave badly in the future.

Set Some Ground Rules

Pets are more likely to adjust to their new homes if clear rules are established soon after their arrival. Letting dogs and cats know what is expected of them can enhance their sense of confidence and can ensure a smoother transition from the shelter to the home environment.

Be the Leader of the Pack

Dogs require strong leadership from their owners to ensure positive behaviors. Establishing a position as the leader of the pack can ensure that owners can maintain control over their dogs even in stressful situations or in public arenas. By remaining calm and providing steady, assertive energy when dealing with your pets, you can ensure a less stressful environment for your entire family.

Walk It Off

One of the best ways to assert pack leadership and to build a solid rapport with canine companions is through the daily walk. You should take the lead on these walks to establish your alpha position within the pack. The alpha member leads the pack in the dog’s natural order, and owners should do the same to ensure the respect and attention of their new animal companion.

Set Your Pet Up for Success

When bringing a pet home from the shelter, it’s usually best to avoid making any assumptions. Even if the shelter personnel indicated that the pet was housebroken, taking the dog outside at regular intervals or showing the cat the litter box can provide added support for the desired behaviors. Providing chew toys for dogs and interactive toys for cats can help them express their instinctual needs without creating wear and tear on your furniture or your nerves.

Trust, But Supervise

Developing trust can be a lengthy process. Monitoring your pet in new situations and around new people and animals can help you to avoid accidents and altercations during the first few weeks after the adoption. Keeping your dog on a leash can also prevent problems at the dog park or on your daily walk.

By keeping these seven tips in mind during the period following the adoption process, you can successfully integrate your new dog or cat into your family and your life.

Introducing the Second Dog

Adopting a second dog can provide added companionship for your current canine and can provide you with another family member to love. Making the right introductions can reduce friction and conflict when adding an additional pet and can ensure a greater degree of peace and harmony within your home. Here are some tips for integrating a new dog into your family successfully.

Do a Little Matchmaking

Before adopting a new dog, consider the habits, age and behavior of your current pet. If your dog is a couch potato and enjoys long, lazy naps on the sofa, a high-energy puppy may be a source of stress for your current pet. Confident and dominant pets usually do better with less dominant additions to the family; two dominant dogs can quickly become embroiled in a power struggle with your home as the battlefield. Shy, less confident dogs typically do better with pets only slightly more dominant than themselves. By choosing a pet with complementary traits to your current dog, you can increase your chances of success in making a winning match.

Make Sure Your Dog Is Ready

Most pet behaviorists recommend that you wait at least one full year after adopting your first dog before looking for a playmate. Dogs require an extended period of adjustment to new surroundings and need time to bond with their owners before bringing in an added pet to compete for time and affection. Additionally, if your pet has significant behavioral issues, you will want to get these resolved before adding another dog into the mix.

Ease Into Things

If possible, introduce your dog to the prospective addition in a neutral setting. A local dog park can allow you to let the two animals meet and get to know each other without creating territorial issues. It is usually best to assign one handler for each dog; this ensures that both animals are under control during their first and subsequent meetings. If all goes well at these initial introductions, you can bring your new family member home to continue the process there.

Separate Areas

During the first week or two, most trainers recommend separating the two dogs with baby gates or see-through barricades and feeding them twice a day within sight of each other. This will help them become accustomed to each other and will provide them with positive reinforcement during their brief interactions. By linking the presence of the other dog with food, you can reduce the potential for food aggression and can help the two dogs become friendly more gradually. Over time, you can remove the baby gates and monitor the interactions between your two dogs. In most cases, dogs introduced gradually and thoughtfully can become the best of friends.

Once your two pets have adjusted to each other, allowing them to share the daily walk can provide them with added bonding time and can allow you to participate in their continued socialization. Walks are a critical part of the training process and can bring you and your pets closer together as an integrated family unit.

Choosing the Perfect Pet

If you are considering adopting an animal companion, you may already have definite ideas about what type of pet you and your family want. Assessing your current living situation and the amount of time and effort you can afford to spend on your new pet, however, can help you to avoid making an impractical choice for your family and your lifestyle. Here are some points to consider before making that trip to the pet store or animal shelter.


Depending on your preferences, you may be thinking of adopting a puppy or an adult dog from a local shelter or buying one from a responsible breeder. Dogs at any age require a great deal of attention, training and exercise to stay healthy and happy. However, certain advantages and drawbacks may make an older dog or a puppy more attractive and appropriate for your particular situation:

  • Puppies require constant attention and training to ensure proper socialization. They also must be housebroken to reduce the chance of accidents inside the home. Consistent and repeated effort is required to ensure the success of the house-training process.
  • Some older dogs may have been in an abusive environment in the past. Because aggressive and unfriendly dogs are usually weeded out of the shelter system, however, most pets in these facilities are well suited to family life. In most cases, older dogs are house trained and many co-exist well with cats and other animals, making them a safer and more compassionate choice for many families.

Before adopting a dog, take a hard look at your current schedule. If you cannot fit regular walks and training sessions into your daily routine, you are probably not ready for the long-term commitment of dog ownership.


Cats are an ideal pet for apartment dwellers and others who may not have a great deal of time to spend with a pet during the day. Cats still require a good deal of love and exercise, however. A vigorous play session each morning and evening can usually help even the most active cats expend their energy in a healthy way. Most cats learn to use the litter box and to socialize appropriately from their mothers and siblings. It is important not to remove kittens from their mothers until after eight weeks of age. Kittens that are rehomed at too young an age may exhibit inappropriate behavior and may require added training and socialization throughout their lives.


Fish can provide hours of enjoyment for their owners with a minimal but correct amount of care for their environments. Salt-water tanks may require added attention on the part of owners to ensure the proper pH levels and temperature for tropical fish.
Considering your current lifestyle and your available free time can help you select a suitable pet for yourself and your family. A little due diligence before you adopt can ensure the right fit for a lifetime of happy pet ownership.

Giving Back to Better the Lives of People and Animals

Before becoming a successful entrepreneur, Mark Pieloch knew that whatever he did had to make the world a better place. He loved animals and decided to tackle the problem of giving dogs, cats and horses medicine. Forcing medications down a pet’s throat was not a positive way to reinforce the strength of the human-animal bond. Now, Pieloch is the head of a firm that develops and manufactures appealing flavors that are added to animal medications. Companion animals readily take the medications without force, making it easier on both pets and their humans. He doesn’t stop there, however. He also supports several nonprofit organizations that help animals and build strong communities.

The Capital Humane Society in Lincoln, Nebraska, has been serving the community since 1902. Director Robert Downey faced a challenge as more animals came to the shelter but few found forever homes. The facility was too small to accommodate the numbers of animals coming in and it was too far away from high-traffic areas where people congregated. Building a modern facility in a high-traffic area seemed like the answer, but funding such a project didn’t seem possible. That is, until Pieloch heard of the project. In 2011, Mark donated $1.5 million to the Capital Humane Society in Lincoln, Nebraska. As Robert Downey exclaimed, “This means everything.” On July 2, 2013, the Pieloch Pet Adoption Center opened its doors. Located in an area that has high-volume traffic, Downey anticipates an increase of adoptions of 10 percent. Because of Pieloch’s generous donation, more animals have a chance at finding loving homes.

Pieloch continued helping animals after moving his business to Florida. In the spring of 2013, destructive winds hit the Central Florida Animal Reserve (CFAR). At this big cat sanctuary, the refrigeration system and other necessary units used to care for and house the animals were badly damaged. With repair projections far exceeding their budget, CFAR President Thomas Blue and the staff of volunteers were at a loss. As soon as Pieloch heard about the damage, he contacted Blue. Pieloch was impressed with Blue and the importance of the work he and the volunteers were doing. He gave the CFAR a $12,000 check. The CFAR repaired the damage and is now in the process of moving to a larger facility where the animals will have more room.

People are important to him as well. In 2009, he gave $25,000 to the Syracuse Foundation toward the construction of the Syracuse Sports Complex in Nebraska. Pieloch sponsors the Western and Hunt Seat Horsemanship Equitation Team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with financial support and his company’s supplement products. He also actively donates to local and national organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Girl Scouts, American Diabetes Association and Community Safety Net.

The generous donations from Mark Pieloch have made life better for countless animals and humans. Both the CFAR and Capital Humane Society have survived and thrived because he exhibited a willingness to help when they most needed it. Giving back to the community and making life better for animals has always been his passion. Because of Pieloch, vital animal welfare work goes on.

Giving Homeless Pets a Fighting Chance

The Capital Humane Society in Lincoln, Nebraska, desperately needed a new and larger adoption center in a high-traffic area to give Lincoln’s homeless and abandoned pets the best chance of finding their forever homes. Donations came in, but it wasn’t until Mark Pieloch gave a $1.5 million donation that the new adoption center became a reality.

The Capital Humane Society first opened its doors in 1902 as the Lancaster County Humane Society. Located in a shed, its initial mission was to prevent cruelty against children and horses. In 1907, services expanded to serve a variety of other animals.

In 1924, the Sawyer-Snell Estate gave the humane society a three-acre tract of land. The shelter is still located at Park Boulevard and Hatch Street. The latest incarnation was built in 1966 and renovated in 1997. In 2004, the Spay/Neuter Vet clinic was renovated, which ensured that all animals in the adoption program were spayed or neutered on site.

Because of the generous donation of Mark Pieloch, the Pieloch Pet Adoption Center opened its doors on July 2, 2013. Located in a highly traveled area at 6500 S. 70th Street, shelter director Robert Downey hopes more visitors will stop in and projects a 10 percent increase in the adoption rate.

The homeless pet population in the United States is a staggering problem. Anywhere from 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year because shelters are overrun, have limited funds and are too small to house and care for large numbers of companion animals they receive. The numbers of stray dogs in the United States is impossible to determine, but estimates for cats are as high as 70 million. Many pet owners do not spay or neuter their pets. Indiscriminate breeding brings even more unwanted cats and dogs into the world. The goal of the Capital Humane Society is to educate people about proper care for their animals, encourage spaying and neutering, ensure pets are provided with identification and find loving forever homes for the animals in its care.

A great way to help the Capital Humane Society is by volunteering. The Foster Care program is one volunteer option. Some animals that come in need a little extra attention before they are ready for adoption. Some may require socialization; others may need a quiet place to nurse young or recover. A dog or cat may require medication for a time before its ready to go to a new home. The Capital Humane Society’s volunteer Foster Program was designed to meet the needs of pets that need a little more help. Volunteering at the shelter is another option. Walking the dogs and helping in the office are just two of the ways volunteers can help the shelter run more effectively.

Monetary donations help to pay for programs that give more animals a chance to find homes. Donations don’t have to be money, however. Donated supplies from the Capital Humane Society wish list are always welcome. Needed items include non-clumping cat litter, exam gloves, Purina dog and cat food and bleach.

When Mark Pieloch donated money so that the Capital Humane Society could build the Pieloch Pet Adoption Center, he helped give Lincoln’s homeless pets a fighting chance to find a forever home.