Skip navigation

How Can You Help an Animal Shelter? Here’s 5 Ways

Share article on Facebook Share article on Pinterest Share article on Twitter (opens new window)
brunette woman petting two dogs while volunteering at an animal shelter

Adopting a pet from a shelter is not the only thing you can do to support animal rescue groups. You can make a real difference for shelters and animals in need in a number of ways.

Volunteer at a Shelter

Shelters can often use extra hands for all sorts of activities. They may need help taking care of the pets (walking, feeding, and playing with them), cleaning the facilities, completing adoption paperwork, or adding new pets to their website and social media accounts.

They may also benefit from your particular expertise. Are you a hobbyist photographer? You might be able to take adorable pictures of pets that can help them get adopted. Are you a skilled storyteller? You could write engaging posts about the pets and their loveable personalities. Are you a tech whiz? They may need assistance maintaining their website or setting up online adoption forms.

If you'd like to volunteer at an animal shelter, you can search online to locate one near you. Then give them a call to find out if they have a volunteer program or specific needs that you could fill. You can also ask your veterinarian for shelters they'd recommend.

Some shelters allow children over a certain age to volunteer, which can make volunteering at a shelter a fun family activity. It's a great way to teach children about social responsibility, show them how to care for animals, and bond as a family.

small kitten being fed from a bottle by a woman

Foster a Pet

If you have room in your home for a pet temporarily, you might want to consider fostering a dog or cat. Fostering has lots of benefits.

  • Eases the burden on shelters. They'll have one less animal to care for or more space to care for another animal in need.
  • Helps socialize young pets. Kittens and puppies can get used to living in a home around different types of people.
  • Reduces stress on the animal. Shelter workers do their best to make sure their animals are happy, but they can't match the comforts of a home with more focused attention.
  • Keeps pets safe from diseases. Unfortunately, animals in shelters can be exposed to illnesses and parasites that can spread quickly despite the best efforts of shelter staff.
  • Expose them to potential adopters. You may have a friend or neighbor who has been considering adoption that you didn't even know about.

Fostering also lets you try out being a pet parent without a permanent commitment. Although, you may fall so deeply in love with your foster pet that you end up adopting them.

Engage With Shelters on Social Media

Shelters often have social media accounts where you can see the pets they have up for adoption and learn about their current needs, like financial donations, pet supplies, or extra hands for an upcoming event.

Even if you can't adopt or physically help out, you can follow their accounts and share their posts. This can help their posts reach more people who may be in a position to adopt or otherwise chip in.

Give Money

If you're looking for places to donate money, a shelter is a great choice. Caring for animals gets expensive. They need money for food, treats, bedding, litter, cleaning supplies, etc. There are also costs you might not normally think about, including bills for electricity and water, internet service, and office supplies.

If you're not in a place to give financially or want to amplify your efforts, you can set up an online fundraiser and get creative with it.

  • Are you an avid runner or cyclist? Sign up for an event that helps raise money for animal rescues. Or make up your own personal challenge where people can donate dollars for each mile you complete.
  • Birthday coming up? Ask friends and family to donate to the shelter in lieu of presents for your special day.
  • Have kids? Set them up with a lemonade stand and donate the profits to your local shelter. In the winter, they can sell hot cocoa with marshmallows instead.
  • Feeling crafty? You or your kids could make a craft to sell online or at a neighborhood stand to raise money. Friendship bracelets are cheap and easy to make!
  • Love to bake? A bake sale may seem like a throwback, but who doesn't love cookies and brownies? Get neighbors or friends involved so you'll have more goodies to sell.

german shepherd mix dog curled in a dog bed with a blanket and toys at an animal shelter

Donate Supplies

Shelters go through lots of supplies, including pet food, litter, crates, cleaning products, paper towels, blankets, pet toys, newspapers—and the list goes on! Contact your local shelter to see what items they need at the moment. You'll also want to find out when and how to drop things off for them.

If you're going to run a batch of supplies over to a shelter, why not ask your neighbors if they have anything to add to the pile? They may not have thought about donating that old pile of towels in their garage or the cans of cat food their finicky feline doesn't like anymore.

Adopting a Pet

Of course, one of the best ways to help a shelter is to adopt one of their pets.

Why Adopt a Pet from an Animal Shelter?

Rescue pets make wonderful companions! Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Rescue animals are not more likely to have behavioral issues than pets bred on purpose.
  • It's also not true that all rescue pets have had some sort of trauma while purposely-bred pets have not. In fact, puppies sold through puppy mills may have long-term issues due to an inadequate early environment.
  • You can learn a lot about a shelter pet by talking with the staff who care for them. They can help you determine if you and the pet would make a good match.
  • If a pet was relinquished to the shelter by a previous family, you can ask the shelter what happened. Often, this results from a mismatch between the pet and the family's expectations.
  • The shelter will allow you to spend time with the pet before you commit to the adoption. This way, you can see how you interact and connect.

Plus, you could be saving a life! It's a wonderful feeling to know that you're giving a loving home to a cat or dog in need.

Do Adopted Pets Need Pet Insurance?

All pet parents can benefit from pet insurance to help take the best possible care of their four-legged family members. Our Complete CoverageSM can reimburse you for the costs of accidents, illnesses, congenital conditions, and more. It even helps cover the costs of diagnosing and treating behavioral issues, such as excessive vocalization or destructive chewing.

Learn more about pet insurance to see if it's worth it for you and your pet.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


small white and tan dog with red collar sitting on the floor with tongue hanging out

Dog Spleens

The spleen is an unsuspecting organ—dogs can live healthy lives without them. Yet, these organs still have many jobs and can be the origin of health issues.


Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Symptoms & Prevention

Dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages can be afflicted with this degenerative condition.


young woman snuggling with a French bulldog at home on a sofa

QUIZ: What Kind of Pet Parent Are You?

There are all sorts of pet parents from helicopter types to the more carefree. Take our quiz to see what kind you are.