We often hear people ask how they can help, when they cannot foster an animal or donate money, so we wanted to put together a list of very easy ways you can help our animals in need!
So many animals need help, purebreds and mixes alike. If your heart has a certain breed in mind, then contact local rescue organizations for that breed. Sometimes, your veterinarian works closely with breed groups and can help guide you to a reputable rescue. I have worked closely with Northcentral Maltese Rescue, Doberman Rescue Alliance of Wisconsin, as well as ABMC Malinois Rescue for many years. I also help local shelters and rescue groups and there are MANY ways you can help too! For Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, or Kenosha area groups in Wisconsin, please contact us and we can help point you in the right direction!
The more obvious top three ways of helping are: Fostering a pet in need, Adopting from your LOCAL breed rescue or shelter, or Donating much needed funds to help provide the necessary veterinary care for the animals in need.
But if you are not able to do any of those, there are TONS of Other Ways you Can Help:
1) Talk with your local groups about helping with “Transport” – This means you will donate some time and travel expense for a short “leg” of a car ride, whether to get an animal INTO a foster home…or to send one HOME!
2) Donate supplies: Leashes, collars, bedding/blankets, food, dishes, chew toys (Nylabones, etc) are ALWAYS needed and used. The more we have, the more we can send home with the pet for familiarity of the transfer!
3) If you are a “rummager” sometimes you can find the supplies (like listed above) or even CRATES or X-PENS that can be purchased for low funds and donated to the group. We always have use for kennels, and this allows us to help foster more dogs sometimes, if you cannot.
a. Please help us by sterilizing them once you get them (simple cleaning solutions are fine) but we don’t want to spread any potential infectious disease, like Parvo or Kennel Cough to our new (or own) additions!
4) Kongs, Tricky Treat Balls, Buster Cubes, and other mental stimulation toys are helpful. These can be found online, or if you write companies, sometimes they will donate them to you, for this purpose. Just a little time goes a long way!
5) If you go to Pet Expos or Events, talk with the food representatives and see if you can get free samples (we can use them for training treats!!!) or see if they will donate a bag of food to you for this purpose.
6) Gentle Leaders & Halti’s are used frequently with fosters when we help teach them how to walk properly on a leash, preparing them for their new homes.
7) Have a unique item? Crochet blankets? These can be donated for Raffle Items or Silent Auctions at our events!!!
8) Flea and tick prevention products, unused (but not expired) Heartworm medications, and grooming supplies, like shampoos, brushes, combs, etc, are all useful for our foster parents!
9) Are you a local business or have the ability to donate a gift certificate for your product/services? We can also use these for fundraiser events!
10) Ask your vet if they would consider offering a veterinary discount to any dog in foster care with an organization? Then, tell the rescue about them and we can set up an account! EVERY LITTLE BIT SAVED ALLOWS US TO HELP MORE!
11) Are you a coupon clipper? Clip coupons for dog food, treats, toys, etc. If you cannot purchase them, get these coupons to a rescue rep ASAP!
12) Do you like to bake? Look up some healthy dog-cookie recipes and bake some treats for us! Especially if we coordinate this, we can use them as giveaways for donations at events, or even just use them as training treats!
13) Do you know of or board your own pets at a boarding facility? Would they be willing to donate a week’s stay for a pet in need, if we do not have an immediate foster home for them? Sometimes, we get “urgent” dogs that need our help, but we cannot arrange a foster home in the 48hrs, so we need a place to temporarily board them. Our funds are limited, but ANYTHING helps…
14) Enjoy walking? Ask about walking dogs at the local shelter…you will provide VERY important socialization time out of the kennel, help them learn leash skills, and have a partner for your own program.
15) Have a website? Consider posting a “pet of the week” link to help a dog in need find a home?
16) Like photography? Help out by donating time to take photographs for the shelters or rescues and get those pets seen online!
17) Can you donate some time to conduct a “home visit” for pre-approval for a foster home or new adopter? We have a guidelines checklist that all you have to do is follow!
18) Hold a yard sale and donate the proceeds (or even a portion) to the local rescue or shelter.
19) Educate everyone YOU know about adopting a dog. Ask them to please stray from pet shops and backyard breeders, so that we do not promote financial gain from breeding irresponsibly. GOOD breeders do NOT let ANY dog they produce take up space at a shelter or in a rescue! Pet store dogs and newspaper dogs do not come from reputable or responsible breeders…
20) Know a volunteer? Donate time to help us get the new foster dog to the vet…We pay the expenses, you just transport and help them get the veterinary care they need.
21) Take advantage of promotions of engraved tags for the rescue. A simple “I belong to ___________. Please call ________ if you find me.” Works well for most foster dogs in our care.
22) Work in Media? Write a column on a local rescue group each week, promote responsible pet ownership, and educate as many as you can.
23) Into web design and/or maintenance? Sometimes we get overwhelmed and need help keeping the website current…
24) Donate a pet first aid kit or pay for a new volunteer to attend a pet CPR class (~$40)
25) Dog seatbelts and car dividers can be very useful for those active in transport…
26) Be a friend to a volunteer…sometimes we need to vent, or cry, or just need someone to talk to about organizing events.
27) See if a local Doggie Daycare might be able to hold a “Doggie PlayDate” for their clients, where they then donate the monies raised to that group. Usually a month a month, rotating group, schedule means a LOT of rescue organizations get a little extra...It ALL helps!
28) Research and Know Your Breeds…then visit the shelter and see if that longhaired white dog may be a Maltese, Bichon, Poodle, etc, and then contact a local rescue asking if they might have room to take it…Most rescues DO get contacted, but sometimes the request is sent to a Spam e-mail or they have old contacts, etc, and some rescues DON’T KNOW about those dogs. It doesn’t hurt to cross-post and try to find an option for that pet before it’s too late and humane euthanasia is the only option.
29) Know anyone looking for a dog? Someone you know talking about getting a dog? Ask them to consider Rescue…Most rescues have ALL AGE RANGES available…and adopting means we now have the room to help another one in need, sitting in a cage at a shelter…
30) Put together a list of your local Rescue Groups and print it for you veterinarian to have on file. Provide name of group, contact name of person, phone number and e-mail. This may mean you e-mail them first, but then can add a phone number. I cannot tell you how often veterinarians have pets that come in looking for options other than euthanasia. Some people are moving and cannot keep their pets, some losing their home, some just not wanting the pet anymore, sometimes for medical reasons, sometimes behavioral. Please keep in mind that most rescues cannot accept dogs with bite histories, due to liability, but many will post pictures/descriptions and links to the owner in that case, called a private referral.
31) Win any prizes to pet stores? Considering donating the gift certificate or gift card to the group.
32) Attend the local free seminars on adoption, behavior, and recues. Arm yourself with knowledge so you can help educate others.
33) Have access to a printer? Consider printing applications and other necessary forms for the group. Contact them and see what they need printed for upcoming events.
34) Go to local animal-related businesses (and even some NON-animal related!) and solicit donations or sponsorship for an upcoming fundraising event.
35) Know or use a groomer? Would they donate one groom per month to a new foster dog? Or offer a discount to intakes? Maybe even hold a “grooming seminar” where we can ask for donations to give to the rescue?
36) Know or use a trainer? Ask if they offer rescue discounts and then out together a form for your local groups to have them on hand. Awesome Paws is MORE THAN HAPPY to speak with new adopters on any questions or concerns they are having and we also offer Rescue discounts on training sessions.
37) Volunteer to call post-adoption and see if the owners have any concerns. You can be the “go-to” person after an adoption.
38) If you earn a free bag of dog food when you buy one…donate it to a rescue group.
39) Know anyone handy with a workbench or wrench? See if they can build doghouses, dog beds, or even build food bins/cabinets for foster homes to store food or toys in. If they excel in wood-working, see if they can make “Welcome” Signs with dog designs, or “Dog doesn’t bite, but watch the owner” type novelty signs to donate for silent auctions.
40) Know anyone in home improvement? Will they donate some time to put up fencing? Make new X-pens for the dogs? If we have divided pens, we can sometimes help an additional dog or two, because we can help introduce them more effectively or keep them separate (like new mothers/pups).
41) Microchip/Register your own pets, so that if they are ever lost, the shelter can scan them and call you, so they never burden a shelter or rescue for long.
42) Know anyone who sews? Crochets? Can they make dog sweaters? Sew together “Adopt Me” vests for the dogs to wear that have pockets on them for people to put money in?
43) See a ReAlLY neat item at an event? Buy TWO and donate one of them for a fundraising item.
44) Have a carpet cleaner? Loan it to a foster parent for the weekend…
45) Next time you are at the Dollar Store, pickup an extra bottle of bleach, paper towels, etc, and donate them.
46) Like kids? Offer to babysit one night a week, so a foster mom can take the new addition to a dog training class...
47) Talk to the local kennel clubs and see if they would donate one class to a new dog.
48) Have a video camera? Help get some Videos of the rescue dogs in action to help show them off more…
49) Have well-behaved, dog-savvy kids? Talk to the groups about helping them socialize the dogs to children. Even at safe distances, we can begin to make GREAT associations for the dogs to tolerate children.
50) Provide “poop patrol” to foster parents in your area. Once a week, go over and help them tidy up the dog areas.
51) Have cats? Are they pretty neutral/come out to greet new people? Can a foster parent come over with a dog on leash to see how the dog reacts to the cat in an Eval?
52) Run a farm? Same concept as #50…
53) Cook a homemade meal once in awhile for a local foster parent, so they don’t have to. This idea is GREAT on training class nights that get to be late nights…
54) Know anyone who cleans houses? See if they would donate time to help clean a foster’s home.
55) Make flyers to post at the kennel club, vet’s office, groomer’s, etc on the “Available Dog of the Month” etc.
56) Use one day to run the flyers to the said places…
57) Good at design? See if the group needs brochures or business cards made…
58) Donate stamps, paper, envelopes.
59) Own a carpet store or know someone who does? Scraps of carpet make excellent mats for training and for under or in crates!
60) Have an old computer? Consider donating it if it still runs, even if it is slow!
61) Know how to fix computers?!? We can ALWAYS use these people…
62) Help organize local “adopt-a-thons” to get the dogs noticed and educate people on the breed!
63) An you pet-sit, even if only for the weekend? We like to take family vacations too, but sometimes we worry about the new dog in a kennel, etc, and just want to be able to trust someone to help for a few days…
64) Good with paperwork? GREAT…’cause we’re not! <joke> We can typically use more help getting pet files together…eval forms, pictures, videos, history, vet records, etc. Then, it all needs to be entered into the database…
65) Run a gas station? Car wash? Detailing business? These things may seems simple, but long-distance drives can be common for intake transport, so these are very helpful donations.
66) Travelling soon?!? Can you bring a dog with you? Maybe bring one back for us? Nationwide small breed rescues use airline travel especially. All you have to do is allow the pet to travel at your feet under the seat in front of you…
67) Have extra skymiles? Donate them to us!
68) Car dealership owner? Care to lend us a car for long-distance drives or just for transport?
69) Any lawyers or accountants out there? We always have use of you as well…care to donate your services?!
70) Report ANY animal abuse or neglect that you see…This can be a homeless pet, one that does not have shelter or water on a hot day or warmth on a cold one. Sometimes this means a dog that is severely matted or looks injured (watch for numerous flies/bugs hovering a particular area, etc). Neglect can be just as bad as abuse and the fines can be high.
71) Update your living will to include a donation to your favorite rescue(s) or amend it to make sure in the event your pets remain, all of their expenses are covered, so the rescue won’t have to.
72) Educate your friends with intact (not spayed or neutered) pets that breeding is NOT for the average person. It takes a LOT of financial commitment, medical expenses, and most responsible breeders do NOT make money. Responsible breeders want to better the breed, so they fully health test, title, and advocate bettering the breed. Remind them that the liability is theirs (financially) if the puppies have genetic defects and all of the owners want refund and replacement puppies or hire an attorney and that they should leave breeding to the people who truly want to better the breed standard.
73) Support local protests at pet stores. Help educate people that they are NOT “saving” a dog when the purchase one from a store…they are condemning the parents of that puppy to mass-produce more, because there is now demand. Help educate everyone you know on breed rescues and adoption. That “cute puppy in the window” may have found a good home…but are they prepared for any medical costs associated with backyard or in-bred puppies?
74) Know an elderly person/couple having trouble taking care of their pet? Offer to help walk the pet, bring it to the groomer or even bring it to the vet. This helps to keep dogs out of rescue due to exercise-related behavioral concerns. We understand that pets provide comfort, but sometimes their care is too overwhelming and by NOT intervening, you may be actually helping to condemn that pet to a humane euthanasia, versus a foster home and second chance.
75) ANY HELP YOU CAN GIVE A RESCUE OR SHELTER IS MUCH NEEDED…AND GREATLY APPRECIATED!