I am the lucky "furmom" of two rescue dogs. The best thing we ever did was to save those two beautiful souls. I even convinced my husband rescue should be our only route. He grew up with purebred dogs from reputable breeders. Nothing wrong with that. For those of you who want purebred dogs, go for it. Just please do your research, visit the breeder, and see the facilities. But there are so many animals in need of "furever" homes throughout the world, and I wanted to do my small part to help.
Not all of us can or want to adopt a shelter or rescue animal. You may have the best of intentions but something is getting in your way: finances, allergies, time, or perhaps all of the above. There are other ways that you can contribute to the wellbeing of rescue animals.
Rescue organizations are non-profit and rely on donations, holding fundraisers throughout the year. But not all donations have to be monetary. Kindness for Homeless Paws, where I adopted Beau, often will request donations of food and toys for their dogs and horses awaiting adoption.
Volunteer Your Time
Most rescue organizations can’t afford to keep the amount of staff they need, and rely heavily on volunteers. If you are looking for a way to help volunteer to walk and play with the cats and dogs, muck horse stalls, or host a fundraiser.
Become a Foster Home
Shelters are crowded, and many animals are in need of socialization, love, and some “normality”. In the southern US where I adopted both Beau and Gonzo the shelters are so full that they euthanize them. Foster homes and rescue groups take as many animals as they can to prevent their death. Often they will ship them north to other shelters with a “no-kill” policy. Provide a temporary home for an animal in need. You won’t regret it.
Contribute to medical expenses
Some rescue animals come from homes where they have been seriously neglected or injured. Medical expenses can be quite significant. If you can’t adopt but want to help, sponsoring an animal and contributing to medical costs is a great option. Check with your local veterinarian or donate to a non-profit group like The Brodie Fund.
It still amazes me that owners do not neuter or spray their animals when they do not intend to breed them. This is the easiest way to reduce the amount of homeless pets. I have neighbors who recently got their first dog. They bought it from a pet store, and surprise- it became sick and died after only a few days. That pet store got their “stock” from a puppy mill. Tragic and yet completely avoidable if only they had done a little research. Likewise there are horse breeders that churn out foals like a baby factory. I am NOT referring to legitimate breeders for both dogs and horses. I am referring to those who stay outside the boundaries of ethical behavior.
I encourage you to find a way to spread knowledge. If you know someone looking for a dog or horse, steer them in the right direction. Get the word out to others, become an advocate.
Think Outside the Box
After college I was living in New York and had very little money. I did, however, have a hobby trying to teach myself crochet. I was not awesome. But I found a group on Craig’s List that provided crocheted and knitted blankets to shelter animals. Something that those dogs or cats could snuggle with and find comfort in. I probably made 50 small blankets to the organization. It was good practice and I was making a small difference.
Contact your local rescue organization and ask them how you can help. There are so many animals that are in need of loving, forever homes. Adoption is a big way to help, but not the only one.
New Jersey Organizations:
About the writer: Heather Wallace of Monmouth County, New Jersey is a certified equine and canine sports massage therapist, co-owner of Bridle & Bone Wellness LLC, and equestrian & canine blogger at Bridle & Bone. She is an adult amateur equestrian in unrequited love with an OTTB and has two rescue dogs, Gonzo and Beau.