Thursday, October 10, 2013

10 Ways to Help (With Just an Hour a Week)

Courtesy of Mutts

I hear it all the time. So many people want to volunteer in animal rescue, but they just don’t have the time to commit to weekly shelter shifts or fostering. That’s ok! There are still many things you can do to help with just one hour a week. Here is a list of ten ideas to get you started:

10. Make it a family affair. Go with your spouse or kids for a “date day” and walk dogs. Most shelter dogs only get out of their kennel once or twice a day for just a few minutes at a time. When volunteers show up to walk dogs, this allows them to get some much need fresh air and one on one attention.
9. Are you handy with tools or do you have any special trade skills? Shelters almost always need help with maintenance and repairs. This is often an area overlooked by other volunteers, but a properly functioning shelter is essential to the animal rescue process.
8. Are you a photographer? Whether you’re an amateur hobbyist or a professional photographer, shelter dogs could use your help creating a portfolio for them. A good portion of adoptions come as a result of a family seeing the dog online and “feeling a connection.” Good quality pictures that capture the animal’s true spirit can go a long way with improving their adoption potential.
7. Animals in shelters also need short biographies written about them. Spend time with a dog and gather a little bit of information from the shelter employees and then compose an honest yet endearing biography for them.
6. Help with transport. Shelters often need help getting an animal from one shelter to another or from the shelter to a veterinary appointment. All you have to do is pick up the dog and drive. You can even document your mileage for tax deduction purposes!
5. Fundraise. Many people are daunted by the thought of fundraising, but it doesn’t have to be a major project. Start by contacting the shelter to determine what supplies they may need and then come up with some ideas about how to get those supplies. Our rescue likes to look on Craigslist or at garage sales. They search for needed supplies, contact the seller, and explain to them that we are a non-profit animal rescue and ask if they would like to donate their dog house/kennel/blankets/etc. Another way to fundraise is to organize a blanket or food drive with a local business. You’ll find there are many ways to earn money when you think outside the box.
4. Do you like to talk to people? Attend an adoption event. Adoption events are a great way for shelter dogs to get out into the community and get exposure. Shelters always need volunteer help with getting dogs to and from events and interacting with potential adopters.
3. Organize a workplace volunteer day. Does your employer encourage volunteer activities? Next time you talk to your boss, suggest a workplace volunteer day (or half-day). It is great PR for your company, an excellent team building exercise, and provides a crew of free help to the local shelter. It is a win-win for everybody!!
2. Be an advocate for shelter animals. Share shelter postings on your social media page. Preach the merits of adoption. Support spay and neuter campaigns. Vote for stricter puppy mill and dog fighting laws. Start a petition to end BSL in your community. The possibilities for advocacy are endless. Find an alley that interests you and go for it!
1. Say “thank you.” Shelter employees are overworked and underpaid. The horrors they witness can wear on even the most optimistic soul. These people see some of the most horrific cases of animal abuse or neglect. They have to endure the sadness of watching a family dog be relinquished to the shelter. They have to see the emotional toll that shelter living takes on these dogs; as a previously vibrant dog becomes a frightened and subdued shell of themselves. These people don’t work for recognition, but a simple thank you makes the work much more bearable and restores just a little bit of faith in humanity. Who doesn’t want to know that their work is appreciated and admired?

Do you have other ideas? Feel free to leave suggestions in our comment section!


  1. New here! I want to tell you that this post is great! Can't wait to read more!!

  2. This is an awesome list of ideas. Some of which I don't think I would have ever thought of before.

  3. Well done! Great advice.

  4. This is completely SUPERB!! I reviewed a book on Dakota's blog a few months ago that was similar (but offered different suggestions) go to his "Barking Book Reviews" and check it out!

  5. Great list! One not on the list and one that I wish I could do is foster. I can't foster, though, because my dog Pierson hates all other dogs except my Maya.