Change a Pet’s Life Day (and Change Your Life Too!)
“Change a Pet’s Life Day” is January 24, 2014. It is a day devoted to encouraging animal adoption and spreading awareness of animal welfare issues. There are many things you can do today (and other days) to change the lives of animals for the better.
- Adopt – Change a dog’s life by adopting from your local shelter or rescue. If you are rescuing a purebred dog, do your homework on the breed to make sure it fits into your lifestyle. There are many rescue groups dedicated to specific dog breeds. Adopt from your local shelter; most dogs through no fault of their own are surrendered or strays who will flourish with your love and attention. Ask the adoption counselors their opinion to help make the perfect match for your family. If this is a second or third dog, most shelters and rescues encourage an introduction meeting for both pets to make sure they are compatible.
- Donate – Make a donation (monetary, food, cleaning supplies, toys, bedding, towels, etc.) Check your local shelter or rescue’s wish list; some have an account with Amazon set up so you can order needed items online and have them delivered directly to the shelter. Monetary donations can include a one-time donation, monthly gift or memorial gift.
- Volunteer at your local shelter or rescue organization. If you are not able to adopt at this time or just want to work with dogs, giving your time is fulfilling for the animals and you. Roles range from walking dogs, socializing them, cleaning cages, photography, providing transportation, and customer service roles. Volunteering at my local shelter has been one of the best experiences of my life. Learning more about how shelters and rescues operate, fundraise, and care for dogs is very interesting. Every bit of time you spend with a dog makes it that much more adoptable. Interacting with other volunteers and sharing tips about the specific needs of each dog provides consistency of training and development.
- Shop – Purchase a product from a company, rescue or shelter that donates a percentage of the cost to dogs. Amazon, Free Kibble, and the Animal Rescue site are a few examples.
- Foster – Open your heart and home to prepare a dog to be adopted. Fostering isn’t a lifetime commitment; it’s a commitment to save one life. Contact your local rescue or shelter. It could be the best thing you’ve ever done with your life – to save theirs.
- Spay and Neuter – Approximately 3.7 million animals are euthanized every year. Don’t contribute to the problem. Most shelter and rescue dogs are already neutered or offer discounts for the surgery. If you love them, fix them!
- Attend an Event – Local rescues and shelters have fun events that benefit dogs like walks, runs, festivals, fairs and dinners. For example, the Indianapolis Humane Society has a “Mutt Strutt” fundraiser every year where participants donate and walk with their dog around the Indy 500 track.
- Create Awareness – Promote local rescues and shelters; share success stories on the organization’s Facebook page; tell someone about your experience with the group.
- Involve Kids – Help the kids in your life improve the lives of homeless pets.
- If your local shelter has a Parent and Me program, let your child volunteer or shadow you
- Sponsor a Contest at School- Which class can bring the most pet food or other items for your shelter’s wish list? Offer the winning class a fun activity, such as a pizza party or lemonade stand.
- Read to a pet – Some shelters offer programs where children sit outside kennels and spend time reading a book to a pet. This interaction helps de-stress dogs and helps your child practice reading skills.
- Start a tradition in your family of giving to a pet food bank . . . not just at Christmas or the holidays, but throughout the year.
- Birthday party donations – instead of bringing gifts for the birthday boy or girl, have the kids bring an item to donate to the local rescue or shelter. Plan a field trip to deliver the items.
- Attend a summer camp – Activities can include time with dogs and cats, training, arts & crafts, games, group bonding activities, cleaning laundry and dishes, kennel/yard cleaning, and many more experiences
- Report Animal Cruelty – Don’t just talk about your neighbor who mistreats their dog; call your local police or animal control organization to report abusive people. Most states have laws to prosecute offenders.
- Advocate – Help fight for the passage of strong anti-cruelty laws on federal, state and local levels by writing letters to politicians, newspapers, or attending a local rescue or shelter event. The ASPCA provides an advocacy toolkit to help you get started.
I hope these suggestions provide information on how to change a pet’s life. It will not only help a dog who cannot speak for himself but enrich your life at the same time. It is truly a win-win situation.
ASPCA – http://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/advocacy-center
Humane Society of the United States – www.hsus.org
Indianapolis Humane Society – www.indyhumane.org
Freekibble – www.freekibble.com
Animal Rescue Site – www.theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com
Amazon Smile Program – https://smile.amazon.com
Petfinder (list of shelter and rescue organizations) – www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues
Animal Protection Laws by state – http://www.humanesociety.org/about/departments/legislation/state_animal_protection_laws