How to Help Shelter Animals
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How to Help Shelter Animals

Want to pitch in at your local animal shelter but don't know how? LHJ spoke to Jennifer Bristol, director of operations at Animal Haven, a nonprofit organization that finds new homes for abandoned dogs and cats, about little ways you can make a difference in the lives of shelter animals. Shelters always need more volunteers, especially during the weekends when they're at their busiest.
To Do

  • Lend a hand at fund-raising and outreach events hosted by your local shelter. Common activities include greeting guests, setting up and breaking down tables, etc.
  • Hold a supply drive or garage sale to benefit a shelter. If your kids want to get involved, they could set up a collection box at their school or ask their friends for donations instead of birthday presents.
  • Assist with adoptions. Introduce people to the animals and answer their questions about owning a pet.
  • Foster a dog or cat for a week.
  • Walk dogs and pet cats.
  • Bathe, groom, and feed animals.

To Donate

  • Postage stamps (uncancelled): Donated stamps are used to help send thank-you letters to donors, pay bills, and send grant applications.
  • All-meat baby food (no onion powder): Dog and cats can eat baby food, but check the label: Onion powder can be toxic.
  • Bath towels, sheets, blankets: Worn-down towels are perfect for drying animals after their baths, lining pet cages, and providing warm and comfy bedding.
  • Goldenseal liquid extract (no alcohol): A natural antibacterial agent, goldenseal helps treat upper respiratory tract problems for cats that have feline leukemia virus (FELV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
  • Dye and fragrance-free detergent: Some cats and dogs are allergic to additives.
  • Paper towels
  • Canned cat and dog food
  • Cat carriers/dog crates
  • Dog/cat toys
  • Dog leashes

More Great Resources

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals helps serve and save victims of animal cruelty. On their Web site, you can learn how to adopt a pet, pay off your vet bills, and more.


The Humane Society of the United States is the largest animal protection agency in the country, and advocates for pets, farm animals, and wildlife. Aside from hosting shelters and mobile veterinary clinics, the Humane Society looks into animal cruelty cases and helps shape public policy.


Animal Sheltering: A Program of the Humane Society of the United States gives advice and guidelines on how to run a shelter and how to improve local animal care.


Additional reporting by Michelle Wiedel.
Originally published on, August 2009.