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How to Help Animals in Your Community

The images that have flashed across our televisions, laptops, and smart phones the past few months have been vivid and dramatic--dogs standing in spreading floodwaters at a Houston area animal shelter, pet owners carrying their dogs through flooded streets, rescuers in fishing boats filled with dog crates and stray dogs. Many of us have been left wondering how we could help those animals. Fortunately, many websites and news outlets have provided multiple avenues for people to contribute and help. The animals in southeast Texas will need help from many.

And while the plight of those animals is real and immediate, many of us remain aware that the cats and dogs in our own communities can also use our assistance. If you are wondering how you can help the animals in your area, consider the following suggestions.

  1. Donate monetarily to a local animal shelter or animal welfare organization. It may be as simple as performing an Internet search using key words such as "animal shelter in [your city]." Many groups have donation links on their websites. You can also make donations in person at the shelter or at an event sponsored by the organization, such as a pet adoption day.
  2. Provide physical items noted on your local shelter's wish list. It is likely that the animal welfare organizations in your city or town have lists of physical items they would love to receive to continue to provide good care for the animals in their charge. Before stopping by with a car full of cat litter, however, check with the organization to find out what they would most like to receive.
  3. Volunteer at your local animal shelter. Again, an Internet search may provide volunteer guidelines and suggestions on the organization's website. Your role could be as simple as cleaning cages at a pet adoption event or socializing scared animals to make them better candidates for adoption. Perhaps you have a particular skill that will help the shelter staff, such as book-keeping, marketing, website developing, or grant writing. The old adage "Many hands make light work" applies to the tasks associated with caring for homeless cats and dogs.
  4. Be a foster pet parent. By opening up your home to temporary feline and/or canine residents, you can help socialize pets for smoother transitions into their new homes, and you can help free up space at your local shelter so the organization can help even more animals. Check with the animal welfare groups near you to learn their guidelines for becoming a foster home.
  5. Harness the power of social media. Are you a social media maven? Lend your skills to your neighborhood shelter to help spread the word about adoptable pets through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more. Similarly, follow your favorite animal welfare groups on their established channels and share their posts on with your friends and followers. The more people the shelters can reach with information about the cats and dogs in their charge, the more likely the chances that those adorable animals will find their new forever homes.
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