Q: What can I do to help animals?
A: There is a wonderful quote that I'd like to share that gives a short answer to this question:
If you can't adopt, foster...
If you can't foster, sponsor...
If you can't sponsor, volunteer...
If you can't volunteer, then donate... or transport an animal to safety
If you can't donate, then educate, network and cross-post...
*Everyone* can do something, large or small, to help save a life.
Now, let's take a closer look at each element in this quote:
- Adoption & Fostering: If you're looking to add a furry-friend to your family, one of the best decisions you can make is shelter adoption, as opposed to going to a breeder. Every shelter in the country is over-crowded with sweet and loving homeless animals just waiting for a deserving home. Unfortunately, the over-crowding all too often leads to these animals being euthanized for lack of space to keep them. If you can't adopt, fostering is another way to not only give an over-crowded shelter the space to take in more animals in need, but to also give our furry-friends a nice, warm and loving home to spend his days until he finds a forever home! You don't have to make a long-term commitment. Any amount of time that you can welcome a homeless animal into your home is one less day they will spend in a shelter.
- Sponsoring & Volunteering: Many animal shelters have sponsorship programs where you can give a certain amount of money per month to provide for the needs of one (or more) of their animals. Sponsorship is personal in that you will know exactly which animal you are helping to care for. If you're not in the financial position to give money, you can always donate your time by being a volunteer. Ask any shelter and they will tell you that the heart of their operations is their volunteers! There are so many tasks that need to be done on a daily basis from cleaning cages, feeding animals, walking dogs, socializing cats and kittens, doing laundry, cleaning litter boxes, to answering phones and driving animals to and from vet appointments that it would be impossible to get it all done without volunteers. Any amount of time you can donate to your local animal shelter will be a huge blessing to them.
- Donating & Transporting animals to safety: Animal shelters operate primarily on the donations of the public. Any amount of money you can give to your local animal shelter will help them keep their doors open and thus, give them the ability to continue saving furry-lives. If you don't want to give money, most shelters have a running list of things they need that you might be able to provide. Shelters usually need anything from cat and dog food, litter, blankets, cat/dog beds, leashes, food bowls, to things you might not even think of like printer paper, toner cartridges, computers and air conditioning units. You might even have some of the things they need lying around your house to donate. If you want to do something other than donating money or dropping off supplies, shelters always need someone with a car to help transport animals to and from vet appointments. You might also take part in rescues by transporting animals from their place of rescue to the shelter.
- Educating, Networking & Cross-Posting: With all our technology and social media these days, this one is pretty easy. You can pretty much *educate* yourself on any subject at the click of a link. Start by researching the importance of spaying and neutering your pets. That is the biggest cause of overpopulation. Is there a fundraiser at the local bowling alley by your home to benefit the animals? Did you learn of another animal rights law being presented to congress that needs your support? Take what you learn and spread the word to family and friends. Don't be shy about using Facebook, Twitter and/or any other social media site you use. If you don't have a computer, you can still help! Animal shelters have fundraisers and adopt-a-thons year round where you can go in person and get educated by those with firsthand experience. Take what you learn from them and spread the news the good old fashioned way: by phone or snail mail. Post fliers at the supermarket, post office or anywhere else you get permission to help promote things like fundraisers or low cost spay/neuter clinics. The possibilities are limitless!
In addition to all of the above, you might also consider adopting a plant-based diet. Farm animals suffer needlessly through confinement, torture and eventual slaughter at the hands of the meat, dairy and egg industries everyday. Do some research on the food you're eating, where it comes from and how the animals you eat are being treated. There is a wealth of information to get you started at ChooseVeg.com. Take a look, get educated and then.... spread the word!
Photo credit: Łukasz Tyrała