It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted reader mail, but this one was too good to omit.
Merry Christmas! I’ve long read now about the dogs you’ve cared for and the work you’ve done with [Scout's Honor] rescue. I wish I could follow your example. But the apartment I live in is in a building that doesn’t allow pets. Do you have any suggestions what else I can do to help dogs in need? If so, I’m thinking that might be my resolution for the new year. Thank you! Happy New Year! – F.G., Charleston, WV.
Happy New Year to you, too, F.G.! Even if you can’t foster an animal in your home there are many ways you can help your local animal rescue organizations. Here are some ideas, off the top of my head:
1. Monetary donations. I wish I could say that saving a dog like EZ’s life and finding the perfect forever home for her is priceless. Unfortunately, there is a price for that kind of happiness. In EZ’s case, because of her operations, it cost about seven thousand dollars. Unfortunately, many rescued animals require medical attention and those costs can add up fast. Even the animals that don’t require medical attention still need vaccinations, routine check-ups, heartworm preventative treatments, etc. They also need food, collars, leashes, bedding, and crates. And then there’s the administrative costs to run a rescue. All these things add up, so monetary donations–no matter how big or how small–are always greatly appreciated. Donations are tax deductable, so be sure to get a receipt and Tax ID number.
2. Other donations. The items mentioned above–food, leashes, blankets, crates, toys, treats, etc.–can be purchased and dropped off by you. If the rescue operates out of a building, they’ll probably also need things like bleach, towels, mops, paper towels, newspapers, etc., as well as general office supplies like paper, pens, staples, copy machines, phones, etc. A lot of these items are found in most homes. Call or check their Web site for a list of needed items. Again, the dollar amount for donated items are often tax deductions.
3. Human contact. One of the best ways you can help a rescued dog is to interact with it. Spend a few hours one day a week to volunteer at a shelter walking dogs. You and the dog will get exercise. (This might fulfill two resolutions at the same time.) Also, attend adoption events. Nobody’s going to frown at you and shoo you away for not adopting a dog or cat if you say that you’re just there to pet the animals and say hello to them. Socialization with humans is very important for a rescued animal. You may not be able to write it off on your taxes, but any love you can offer is valuable.
4. Be an animal advocate. Does your community have leash laws? What about spay and neuter laws? Does your community require breeders to be licensed? Is there a local dog park? Find out. Requiring dogs to be on leashes within town and city limits will prevent dogs from being hit by cars, or from running away and becoming yet another dog in a shelter. Requiring pets by law to be spayed and neutered will help reduce the number of unwanted pets in your community. A local fenced and gated dog park will give dogs (and their owners) a safe place to run and socialize. Requiring breeders to be licensed will reduce the number unwanted and ill-bred pets in your community. Also, it will hopefully stop local puppy mills. There are lots of things you can do as a good citizen to help animals in your community, and keep them out of shelters.
5. Start a rescue organization. So you can’t have pets in your apartment. Do you have five or ten friends? Can they have pets in their apartments or homes? Do each of them have five or ten friends who can have pets in their apartments or homes? And so on and so on? If so, you’ve got the making of a great foster program and you could run it, thereby having upwards of fifty to a hundred pets by proxy! It’s not an easy way to spend your free time, but you could do it. Lots of animals and humans will thank you for it.