Most dogs have happy and healthy homes and their humans love them, treat them with kindness and consider them their best of friends. But there are many cases where dogs don't have a home and may end up in a shelter, are strays or are being abused by their owners.. These are the dogs most in need of help in your community, and for them just doing a little can mean a lot.
The best thing you can do for a dog is to adopt it. While that won't work for everyone, there is no doubt that adopting a dog and giving it a permanent home can't be beaten. But consider this. You may not be able to adopt a dog because of your situation, where you live, your work schedule, or other issues, but do you know of someone who might? A friend or family member, a friend of a friend, an acquaintance that may want or need a companion, and all it may take is an idea with a phone call to get the ball rolling and potentially make a very happy occasion for a dog and its new owner.
Sure, nothing beats adopting a dog, but every pet shelter needs volunteers to help manage their dog population. And this doesn't have to be a full-time project, either. You could go in for an hour a day, or every other day, once per week and clean kennels. You could go in and walk the dogs, you could help during feeding time, you can help giving medications, and there are myriad other ways to be involved as a volunteer. Just doing something like that may make the difference in a dog that is happy to see you, and will then show that love to any prospective owner who is looking to adopt.
Be A Sponsor
If you don't have time to volunteer, consider being a sponsor. Sponsoring means you'll provide a particular dog with food, medicine or special needs for as long as it stays in a shelter. Even though you may not be directly involved with your dog, being a sponsor gives it a chance to thrive and be taken care of until a potential owner shows up. Doing that might make all the difference in the world.
A better way to be a sponsor is to actually foster care a dog until a permanent home is found. It will live with you until such time as an owner is found, and in that way, it won't take up space at a shelter where the space might be needed more. You may be able to do this for only a limited amount of time, like say during a holiday when you'll be at home, or on vacation from work. Even doing that frees up space and acclimates a dog to a human setting, which can only be a positive thing for being permanently adopted down the road.
Volunteer Other Skills
Sure, we touched on volunteering your pet skills, but how about skills that are not pet related? A shelter may need maintenance or minor repair work, and by doing that, you'll allow them to spend more money on the care of the dogs. Although it is an indirect way of volunteering, it serves the same purpose and can be just as satisfying no matter what.
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
Stray dogs can pop up anywhere, and they need to be off the streets and in a shelter where they can be helped. If you see a dog roaming the streets without any apparent ownership, call your local Humane Society or shelter and let them know. Trust me, you'll be doing that stray dog a favor by doing so. Also, and everyone hates to admit this, but there are some bad dog owners out there. Any dog that is restrained out in the open in all types of weather needs help. A call to the Humane Society or shelter will get a someone out to the property where the dog is, and the situation can then be ascertained by a professional.
It's Up To You
No one wants to see a dog abused, penned up in a shelter or stuck in a kennel. By doing any one of the things listed, you can make a difference for the dogs in your community, and it just may be the best feel good thing you've ever done, for you and a dog.
About the Author
Mary Nielsen is a passionate dog lover, blogger, and part-time music teacher. She founded MySweetPuppy.net to share her ups and downs of being a pet parent to a bunch of adorable mutts. When she is not playing with them or teaching, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen.
(images courtesy of Mindi Price, Delores Francois and Becky Lyn Tegze)
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I am an animal welfare advocate. My goal is to help people understand some basic issues related to companion animals in America. Awareness leads to education leads to action leads to change.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson