Animals are more than just four-footed companions that we share our world with - they’re little pieces of our hearts running around on paw pads. If you have a soft spot for the beautiful grace of a cat or soulful eyes of a loving pup, you’re in great company! Helping these wonderful creatures to live full, healthy lives is one of the most rewarding pursuits in charity work, but you’ll need to know where your efforts can provide the best results. These six tactics will help put you on the frontlines of improving the quality of life for pets around the world.
1) Sharing adoptable animals on social media
Sharing adoptable animals on social media is a low-effort, high-impact practice that you can easily make into a habit. Even if your own home is already full of pets or you are pet-free by necessity, circulating adoption information really helps. Perhaps your hairstylist is looking for a new four-footed companion, or a coworker’s sibling mentioned they wanted a specific type of cat. The more a pet’s image and information gets passed around, the higher the likelihood they’ll find the perfect forever home with a new pet parent that can’t wait to love them.
2) TNR (Trap Neuter Release)
TNR is one of the best ways you can control the rapid spread of feral cat colonies, even if you aren’t able to adopt or foster a cat yourself. This process is generally done with a local cat-specific rescue or animal shelter outreach group local to your area. In a TNR setup, a humane cage-type trap is set out for feral cats and baited with food; once they’re caught, they’re taken to a participating veterinary office to be spayed or neutered. After the procedure, they are released back into their familiar outdoor area to live out their lives, but without producing hundreds of additional homeless kittens in the process.
Adopting is the most straightforward way to help improve the life of an animal, be it dog, cat, or another adoptable furiend from your local shelter or rescue foundation. In a pet adoption process, a formerly-homeless or abandoned animal is given to a new home after certain background checks are completed. A small fee is usually paid to the agency or facility adopting out the animal, and these fees are used to support other animals going forward. If you plan to adopt, you should ensure that you are ready, willing, and able to take on an an animal companion, which means setting aside money for vet visits and supplies and, if necessary, obtaining permission and documentation from your landlord or rental agency in order to have a pet.
Fostering is an extremely rewarding way to help save animal lives and improve the quality of those lives in the process. Foster pet parents are initially subjected to the same level of background and home checks an adoptive pet parent goes through, but the pets they receive are only intended to be temporary guests. Fostering helps ensure safe placement of an animal while a “forever home” is found, and relieves overcrowding in animal shelters, particularly during high occupancy periods like “kitten season.” Sometimes, a foster parent will fall in love with their foster pet, and what is playfully called a “foster failure” will occur - the foster parent adopts their foster pet to give them a forever home.
5) Skilled volunteering
Skilled Volunteering helps shelters and pet rescue organizations get the word out about the animals in their care, and specific needs they may have. Photographers often volunteer their services to take “glamour shot” type photography with a shelter’s dogs and cats, providing sweet, engaging pictures that entice adoptions. Other marketing professionals or writers may volunteer their time with social media management, or writing descriptions of each pet’s personality to give potential pet parents an idea of what to expect when visiting in person. This visibility, in turn, helps keep adoption rates high and helps generate social interest that attracts donations.
Donating helps financially support worthy causes, giving animal-centric charities like The Smush Foundation the capital they need for supplies, procedures like spaying and neutering, advertising adoptable pets, and more. Donations are the very backbone of saving animal lives across the country and even across the world - when charities can focus on helping, saving, and protecting cats and dogs instead of fundraising efforts, they can do a great deal more for the communities they serve. Donation is an excellent choice for individuals that want to help, but are unable to do so any other way.
Still don’t believe that you can make a lasting difference in the lives of abandoned, homeless, and feral pets across the country? You can make an enormous positive impact, and there’s never been a better time to start.