By Dr. Becker
It’s the season of giving, and if you’re a pet owner you know well the unconditional love and support that your pet gives you each and every day. Pet owners, too, give to their animal companions, offering food, shelter and, of course, plenty of cuddles.
At this time of year, you may be wondering how you can give back to your community, but what you might not have considered is that your pet can give back too. In fact… you could team up and do it together!
The following suggestions from PetMD are a phenomenal way for you and your pet to do good deeds (and have fun doing them).
How to Give Back… With Your Pet
1. Foster a Pet
When you foster a pet, you provide a temporary home for an animal in need. Most local shelters have fostering opportunities, allowing you to give a shelter animal a warm home while he waits to be adopted.
2. Donate Your Dog or Cat’s Blood
Just as donated blood can save human lives, it can save animal lives too, in cases such as injury, anemia, and much more. Animal blood banks may take blood donations directly, or you might be able to help by fostering a rescued pet that’s acting as a donor until he is adopted into his forever home. The Association of Veterinary Hematology and Transfusion Medicine has a list of veterinary blood banks.
3. Pet Craft Night
Do you enjoy crafting? Have a pet crafting party with your friends and create hand-crafted pet toys, beds, and blankets. You can then donate the items to a local shelter.
4. Volunteer as a Pet Therapy Team
Both dogs and cats can act as therapy animals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other rehabilitation centers. Pet Partners (formerly the Delta Society) can screen you and your pet to see if you’d make a good therapy-animal team.1
5. Help Children Learn How to Read
Organizations including Bideawee and Canine Assistants match children with animal “listeners” to read to. A dog or cat is a non-judgmental listener and can be a powerful motivating factor for kids who are struggling to read.
6. Help in Search-and-Rescue Efforts
Dog-owner teams can become trained by the American Rescue Dog Association to help search for missing persons along with police and other emergency responders. After completing the training, you and your canine companion could help save someone’s life!
7. Join Dog Scouts of America
The Dog Scouts of America is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching their lives and the lives of others with dogs. If you join a troop in your area, you’ll learn how to become a more responsible dog owner, promote the humane treatment of animals and also bond with your pet. You and your dog can also earn merit badges, including those for Community Service, Clean-up America, Water Safety, Backpacking, and more.
8. Collect for a Good Cause
Animal shelters are often in need of supplies like old towels, blankets, cleaning supplies, and more. Call your local shelter to see what they need, and then organize a drive in your neighborhood to collect items for donation.
9. Get Creative with Donations
For holidays or your birthday, e-mail your friends and family a cute photo of your pet along with a request to make a donation to your favorite charity in lieu of buying a gift (you can even include a donation link in your message).
10. Do a Charity Walk
Dog-friendly charity walks are becoming increasingly popular. Doggie Dash Classic, for instance is a walk for homeless pets. Other charity walks also welcome pets (but call the organizer first to be sure). You can even bring your cat along in a pet-friendly stroller.
Of course, one of the best ways of all to give back is to adopt a shelter pet in need. Close to 3 million adoptable pets are killed each year in US animal shelters, so if you have the room to welcome another pet into your home, it’s one of the most rewarding acts you can take – for both you and your pets.