9 ways to help homeless pets this holiday season

9 ways to help homeless pets this holiday season
There are many ways to help pets in need during the holidays. Many shelters host photos with Santa. Photo courtesy of Heartland Animal Shelter.

You can make a difference for homeless pets this holiday season. Shelters and rescues are in need of deliveries from Santa to help them care for pets looking for a home. Here are 9 ways you can help homeless pets or keep pets with their families this holiday season.

Host a supply drive – Ask your local shelter or rescue what they need most, then organize a supply drive at your office, school, church or youth organization. It’s an easy way for kids in particular to get involved and excited about a project to help animals. Food, litter, toys, leashes, bleach and paper towels often top lists.

Recycling for pets – Routine items needed by most groups include towels, sheets, blankets and newspapers. Instead of recycling these items or throwing them away, donate to your local shelter. It's a great way to help homeless pets.

Pet food drives keep pets in their home. Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove is collecting food for Nina's Pantry.

Pet food drives keep pets in their home. Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove is collecting food for Nina's Pantry.

Pet food pantries – Donate food and other supplies to local pet food pantries. They provide food for families in need and keeps pets with their families and out of the shelter system when times are difficult.

Shop with a purpose - You can help homeless pets by searching and shopping online. Register with GoodSearch and your pet non-profit receives a penny each time you search. Use iGive, GoodShop and Amazon-Smile and your designated group will receive a percentage of your purchase.

Sponsor a pet – Many shelters and rescues have sponsorship programs to help pay for the care of certain animals. They may be long term residents, animals that have needed extra medical care or other animals in the care of the shelter or rescue.

Fostering pets save lives. You can also offer your talents as a volunteer in other ways. Rickenbacker from Tree House needs a foster or adopter .

Fostering pets save lives. You can also offer your talents as a volunteer in other ways. Rickenbacker from Tree House needs a foster or adopter .

Volunteer – Organizations need help caring for the pets, fundraising, organizing events or assisting with community education and public relations. Even more help is needed after the holidays. Fosters are also needed and some groups may need temporary fosters during the holiday – it’s a great way to get started fostering without a longer-term commitment.

Purchase an Ornament on the Tree of Hope or Giving Tree - Many organizations also have “Trees of Hope” or “Giving Trees” either online, onsite or at their popular outreach locations. These trees hold ornaments or virtual ornaments that list what is needed or suggests monetary donations and what each amount provides for the animals. Others offer an ornament for a donation.

Make every donation count – Watch your favorite rescue's social media sites for matching programs in which your donation is matched by another donor.

Adopt, don’t shop – If you are considering adding a pet to your home, first make sure the time is right (that may be after the holidays). Then, don’t shop, adopt instead. Pet stores selling puppies and kittens get their pets from puppy mills…adopt from a shelter or rescue and save a two lives, the pet you adopt, and the new pet that takes his or her place in rescue.

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    I am a crazy cat lady and puppy mill warrior that blogs to advocate and educate about pet issues. In American animal controls, millions of pets are abandoned each year and an estimated 4 million die just because there are not enough homes. It truly seems like it’s Raining Cats and Dogs.

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