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This one is by B.Nelson, a frequent poster on The Express, and animal lover. Her nickname is Ranch Fresh Eggs, lol. To see more of her work and some great pictures click the link below. B. Nelson's Triond profile. Click here! All year long shelters are in need of donations, gifts, and things to help them help the animals they care for every day of the year. Below is a list of things you should consider as great gifts for your local animal shelter or pet rescue. If you are not sure if an animal shelter exists in your area, phone a veterinarian and they will let you know.
1. Cash. The number one most needed item by shelters is cash. With this they can pay their staff, vet bills, utility costs, buy food, or what ever is needed. Cash goes a long way, and most shelters have a charitable status so your cash donation will be given a tax receipt for you to claim on your income tax. This is a win-win gift.
2. Pet Food. Shelters always need food for their pets and donations of food are greatly appreciated, but before you rush out and buy just any food, call the shelter and see what they need most. Some shelters try to feed only one brand of food because changing brands causes tummy upset. Some shelters get foods donated that they will not feed. At certain times of the year they may need more kitten or puppy food (usually summer and fall) where as at other times of the year they mostly need adult food. Do not forget food for smaller animals such as rabbits or birds if your shelter houses them too. On the whole for cats and dogs, pick a food that is chicken and rice, or lamb and rice, as these are the gentlest on the pets tummy.
3. Pet Supplies. Again it is best to call the shelter and see what they need before rushing out to the store. Many shelters will not use plastic bowls because they cannot be properly disinfected, but love stainless steel bowls. What kind of cat litter do they use, clumping, or non-clumping? Do they need more litter boxes, or dog collars? Do they need chew sticks for their small animals?
painting of cats eyes
Painting by author, not for reproduction.
4. Pet Toys. Shelters often have more cat toys than they know what to do with, and not enough dog toys. This is because dogs are destructive and will often ruin their toys after a period of time, where as cat toys last a long time. As such most shelters need dog toys. Find out what sizes of dog your shelter houses predominantly and get toys appropriate for that size of dog. Most shelters require toys for larger dogs, big rope toys, and large kong type toys work great, but so do footballs and soccer balls.
5. Blankets and Bedding. These are gifts that usually do not have to cost you a cent. Give the shelter your old, but not ruined, towels, and blankets. Pets need bedding material in their cages, and these are changed daily in most shelters. In the cases of dogs sometimes they need their bedding changed more often and sometimes they destroy their blankets altogether, so replacing them is important.
6. Give the Gift of Time. One thing shelters always need is volunteers. Most volunteers spend their time walking dogs, which is important. Only a few shelters allow volunteers to help clean cages, but you can offer to fold laundry, or wash dishes. Grooming is important, and cats need to be played with also. Do not forget that bunnies and caged animals need attention and love.
7. Office Supplies. Many people forget that shelters have other needs that do not revolve around the pets. They need office supplies such as pens, and paper.
8. Cleaning Supplies. The shelter might need paper towel, toilet paper and so forth, even light bulbs. They probably can use rubber gloves and washcloths.
9. Do Not Forget the Staff. Staff at animal shelters, are true animal lovers. In shelters that are forced to euthanize animals (due to health or overcrowding) it is extremely difficult and the general public often accuses the staff of being uncaring. Give them a fruit tray, or some other goodies. Avoid giving chocolate as this can be deadly to dogs and you wouldn’t want an accidental problem with your gift.
10. Put Adopting a Pet on your List. If you have room in your heart, home and life, for a pet, consider adoption. Most shelters will not adopt pets out over the holidays, as this is a stressful time, also they want to be sure the pet is not acquired on a whim. Never give a pet to somebody as a gift, if you know somebody who wants a pet give them a certificate to adopt, in this way they can select their own pet as they are more likely to bond with a pet they have selected.
As a Bonus, please take care of your own pets. Spaying and neutering our pets is the best way of reducing stress on animal shelters and pet rescues world wide.