Your animal shelter probably needs you more than you know. With so many animals in shelters, volunteers and shelter staff are constantly trying to keep up, but there’s always something else that’s needed. With potentially hundreds of mouths to feed and care for, the need for food, medicine, toys, and personal items is high.
To help you get started on your donation journey, we’ve listed the 9 things animal shelters are in most need of. While there’s always more, this is a great start for any animal shelter in need.
How Can I Help A Local Animal Shelter?
You can help your local animal shelter in so many ways. There isn’t one way to help, as we all have differing skills and talents to offer. Some volunteers like to interact and care for the animals, while others take on non-animal handling roles. These volunteers can offer support by handling administrative duties, legal services, and fundraising services as well.
Then on the other hand, some choose to help animal shelters through donations. This can come in the form of money or even food and supplies. Shelters are always in need of food, collars, leashes, beds, and of course, toys. If you’re so inclined, you can make a huge difference by donating items to your local animal shelter.
Why Is It Important To Help Animal Shelters?
Shelters nationwide are constantly constrained by the large numbers of animals that enter their facilities. In fact, the ASPCA figures that about 6.3 million companion animals enter shelters each year. Of that number, they estimate that 3.1 million are dogs, while 3.2 million are cats. While this total is down 1.1 million from the last figure in 2011, it still proves that most shelters are probably inundated with animals at any given time.
With such striking statistics, it’s not surprising that animal shelters are in need of support. You can have a direct impact on your local community by volunteering or supporting your local animal shelter in some capacity. It may seem like a small step, but if replicated across the country, we can all stand to make a difference in the lives of animals.
What Do Animal Shelters Need The Most?
Animal shelters are in constant need of so many items aside from monetary donations or volunteering. While those will always be crucial modes of donation, there are so many other options you can choose to supply no matter your budget. Below are the top nine things animal shelters need the most.
- Monetary Donations
Monetary donations will always be the most common donation that people think of for animal shelters. However, we all have different amounts that we can give. At CUDDLY, we have something called the CUDDLY Club which takes your generous donations and pools them together to make a bigger impact.
This money can be used for surgery, transport of animals to safety, and even supplies. Once the funds are pooled, the supplies and/or funds are sent directly to the animal or rescue organization in need. As a member of the CUDDLY Club you’ll receive weekly emails updating you on the animals you have helped.
Currently, we have sent over 32,000 items, helped more than 1,900 pets and over 900 rescues as well. Our club is for everyone, and every donation (no matter the number) matters as we continue to help to create happier animals to make for a happier world.
Volunteers are always needed, and they probably always will be. As we all hope for animals to get adopted into their forever homes, there is the time in between. This time before adoption is needed to feed, care for, play with, and house animals in need.
If you’re looking to volunteer at a local animal shelter, check out our CUDDLY Shelter and Rescue Search page. Here you can find local shelters and rescues looking for donations or volunteers. Once you’ve found a nearby location, check out that shelter/rescue’s website, or call to see if they are looking for volunteers. Some are looking for volunteers to help handle animals, while others are looking for help with administrative duties. There truly is a role for every type of volunteer. Never feel discouraged or deterred if you have a certain skill set outside of the “traditional” volunteer scope. Remember, every action to help makes a difference in an animal’s life.
- Food and Donations
If you own a pet, then you probably know how much food they go through. You’re probably always at the store, or ordering something else online. Just as we eat, our animals do too. Now amplify that thought for the millions of pets in America and we’ve got a lot of hungry bellies in need. Shelters are always in need of food donations for the various dogs, cats, and any other animal that comes through. You can always stop by your local animal shelter and drop off a few bags of food to help.
However, if you’re unsure how to donate, or if you don’t have the ability to stop by there are other options. At CUDDLY, we have our very own Wishlist Gift Program that donates food and other items to animals in need. This is our take on a virtual pet pantry, where we send the donated items directly to the animals in need.
For example, one of the amazing events we support is the Family Fur-st Drive-Thru Pet Pantry located in California. This program was started in 2020 to help families get
through the COVID-19 Pandemic by providing those in need with food and pet supplies. Organizations and donations have kept it running and pet owners in need of food for:
- Cats & kittens
- Dogs & puppies
- Guinea Pigs
If you’re looking to personally donate you can create a care package through a monetary donation or you can hand select items yourself here.
Similarly, the Kibble Supply Pet Food Pantry provides support and food for the Northern Colorado community in need. They have been able to support almost 400 community cats thanks to dedicated caretakers’ support. If you’re interested in supporting their effort please check out their Wishlist Gift donation page to donate today.
- Carriers/Kennels And Collapsible Pet Cages
Shelters are always looking for carriers, kennels, and collapsible cages for the different sized animals that pass through. Shelter employees often have to transport animals to and from other shelters or adoption events. Carriers and kennels also effectively create a small, safe place for cats and dogs to feel safe within.
- Blankets, Towels And Sheets
Blankets, towels, and sheets oh my. There’s always a need and you could make an animal very comfortable with a donation. A cuddly blanket or some soft sheets can make a world of a difference for an animal in a shelter. Many of these animals have come from truly difficult backgrounds, and a little care and warmth could help to open them back up to the kindness that still exists in the world.
Towels are also extremely useful for shelter staff for baths and other medical procedures. Honestly, anything warm and snuggly will do.
Just see how Tooth & Honey is creating clothes for pit bulls to feel warmth they are so often not given. Their clothes are made for comfort, but can also be used post-surgery to
cover scars and prevent wounds from reopening. And as the saying goes, the clothes really do make the man, or dog in this case. Your donation could do the same, so see what your local shelter might need, especially for the colder months.
- Cleaning And Office Supplies
Never underestimate the power of cleaning and office supplies in an animal shelter. Shelters must maintain cleanliness above all else to keep the animals safe and happy. A donation of wipes or disinfectant products can help to maintain those strict standards. You can also donate paper, older printers, and phones which can help administrative staff with adoption paperwork and other duties.
You can even call your local animal shelter to see if they need a computer to help with online adoption needs. If you find yourself cleaning through old office supplies or extra cleaning supplies you haven’t used, why not find a good home for them instead of just tossing them out. Shelter staff will be more than happy to find good use for these items.
- Adopt A Pet
Adopting a pet is one of the most rewarding things you can do. You can change the trajectory of an animal’s life by choosing to love and care for them. So many pets are neglected or simply can not be cared for properly by their owners. However, if you are willing to open your heart and home up to an animal, they will surely open their heart to you. As humans we often struggle with opening up, but animals, now they just love endlessly.
In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that interacting with animals has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, and even reduce loneliness. Perhaps as we adopt pets, we also heal ourselves at the same time. Your adoption journey could bring quite the inspiration and love needed.
We can all agree that every pet deserves at least a few toys in their life (ideally the number would be in the hundreds if money was no concern). There are also benefits to finding interactive toys for animals; which often helps with stimulation. If price is a concern, The Anti-Cruelty Society has come up with DIY Donation ideas including:
- Cat Wands and Kitty Cork Toys
- Catnip Sachets and Kitty Cardboard Mouse
- Dog Puzzle Toy and Dog Tug Toy
- And even a No-Sew Pet Bed
Try your hand at crafting a DIY toy or check out this DIY Enrichment Toy Guide for shelter animals from The Humane Society of Hartford County for additional inexpensive and stimulating toy ideas.
- Find And Fund Crowdfunding
Perhaps the idea of crowdfunding has appealed to you, but there’s just not enough information on how to get started. We hear you on that, which is why CUDDLY has committed to helping communities around the country with our Wishlist Gift Program.
Here you can search for a shelter/rescue in need and donate what is needed directly. We make sure all supplies are donated directly to the animal(s) in need, and send you updates about your donation.
Other Ways You Can Contribute To Animal Shelters
The beauty of contributing to an animal shelter is that it isn’t one size fits all. There are so many ways to help, so many that you could probably brainstorm a few new ones. Think about what your community would benefit from and how interacting with animals can benefit us all. Your creativity could lead to new programs that better serve your local community.
Organize Or Attend Pet Adoption Events
One additional way to contribute is by organizing or attending a pet adoption event. These events are often hosted by local animal shelters, but some can be orchestrated by volunteers at new locations. However, if you’re not ready to organize, attending can be equally eye-opening as well. Maybe your attendance even sparks an urge to volunteer or donate what you can.
Promote Animal Shelters On Social Media
Social media has completely revolutionized how animal shelters run. Now more than ever, shelters can connect with the local community and also the entire country thanks to a few posts on social media. Shelters can use Instagram to reach influencers and gain support from around the world, or use Facebook to organize in-person events. The sky truly is the limit when it comes to using social media for promotion.
How Your Support Matters
At CUDDLY we support shelters and rescues first. It’s our mission to enhance the lives of the animals in this country through donations and support. You can make a difference in an animal’s life through donation, volunteering, social outreach and promotion. Honestly, the list is endless! All support matters in a unique way.
If you’re looking to donate to a local shelter, or one across the country, check out our Pet Pantry Donation page. Here you can see what shelters around the country are looking for and how they could directly benefit from your support.