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12 ways to share your gratitude for local shelters + 7 ways your local shelter helps pets in need!

Happy Shelter Appreciation week everyone! As you all know I am passionate about lending a helping paw to local rescues and shelter groups and about pet adoption. This week is all about celebrating and saying thank you to the amazing volunteers who are devoted to helping shelter pets near and far find their happy tails. So today, I'm sharing a few great ways to share your gratitude to them and a few ways that you may, or may not know that shelters help amazing pets every single day, 24/7, 365.

First up, some amazing things that not everyone realizes that shelters do every day to help amazing fur-kids near and far.

1. Vaccination Programs: Most shelters not only vaccinate pets that come into their shelter but also often have low-income vaccination programs helping all pets stay safe and healthy. These vaccines in dogs include rabies, parvovirus, panleukopenia, and canine distemper and in cats, they often include feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia vaccines. If a shelter specializes in other animals, such as farm animals or exotic pets, they have core vaccines tailored to their specific needs to help keep their animals healthy and happy. This is one of the many benefits to a new adopter adopting a rescue pet, you know they are all up to date on all their shots and that is included in the adoption fee.

2. Microchipping Programs: Most shelters check for a microchip as a standard intake procedure and if a pet doesn't have one, they are given one before they are adopted. Another of the many perks to adoption that is included in your adoption fee. These microchips have a registration number, and once scanned at an animal control center or animal shelter, can provide information to reunite the pet to their owner. This helps animal shelters return lost pets and, furthermore, helps keep shelters from becoming overpopulated.

3. Public Education Programs Many shelters also educate the public about animal care and about what they can do to help local pets in need. Shelters are full of very knowledgeable employees and volunteers who can answer questions about anything and everything pet-related. Many animal shelters also have free educational materials available to take home on topics such as proper pet care, how to deal with behavioral issues, and how you can help with overpopulation. These materials aren’t just for folks who walk through the shelter door, either. Often, shelters are also involved in outreach programs to help educate the community at large about how to help animals in need.

4. Helping Pets Heal. Unfortunately, not all pet owners are responsible or even care for their pets. They may abuse, neglect, or abandon them. For many animals, this can lead to high levels of anxiety, trust issues, and depression. With the help of animal shelter employees and volunteers, some of these animals are able to start the healing process and trust humans once again.

5. Spaying and Neutering Programs These programs work incredibly hard to prevent overpopulation and strays, and the best way to do that is to spay and neuter animals. It would be hard to find a shelter that didn’t provide these services. Another perk to adoption from a shelter - your pet already comes pre-spayed or neutered helping them to live a long and healthy life and helping to reduce pet overpopulation - all included in the price of your adoption fee.

6. Shelters Accept All. Rescues and Shelters are slightly different in one big aspect. Many rescue groups may have a certain breed or animal they pull from shelters or the streets and then rehome, such as a Bulldog specific rescue or a senior dog-specific rescue. Shelters, however, are not as selective. They are often government-run and are the places anyone can take their pet and surrender them. Because of this, shelters are often very full, and especially in the US, not so much here in Canada, sometimes animals have to be euthanized to make space. In Canada, we are fortunate to have a no-kill policy. This doesn't mean that an animal is never euthanized, however, it is only done in the direst of circumstances and never to simply make room for more pets. This is one reason many private shelters often bring up shelter pets from the States to help save their lives. In the US many are starting to try and move to a similar program that we, in Canada have which is a no-kill policy. If you're in the US, be sure to check out how you can help your local shelter become a No-Kill Shelter.

7. They Fight Hard To Get Every Animal A Forever Home The harsh reality about US shelters is they do become overcrowded. Shelters do everything in their power to make sure they don’t have to perform any unnecessary euthanizing, including reaching out to rescue groups in Canada and other countries. They have volunteers who foster animals when the facility becomes cramped. Some employees foster, too. They reach out and make sure that every animal that crosses through the shelter doors has a shot at a better life. Millions of animals would be helpless without the help of animal shelters.

Now onward and upward to how you can help show your appreciation to the hardworking volunteers at your neighborhood shelter! No matter where you live, these tasks, no matter how small they may seem, are sure to brighten up their volunteer's day!

1. Promote shelter and rescue adoption on social media! It's easy and it's free - so why not give it a try! Share adoption photos they share online or share their upcoming fundraising events. Another online way to help? Write a review on Facebook, Google, or Yelp. Many people read reviews before considering adopting a pet or supporting a shelter. They might read several online reviews before even entering the location. By sharing your positive story, it could encourage others to visit. It will also help future donors feel positive about supporting this particular shelter. And another easy free way to help online? Simply become a fan! Like, Share, and Follow your local animal shelters and rescue groups on Facebook, then invite your friends and family to like and follow them too. And don't forget to engage by sharing and commenting on posts to help others see them on their pages too!

2. Volunteer. Find out when the next volunteer orientation is at your local shelter and go—shelters and rescues depend heavily on volunteers to make sure the pets get everything they need. Walking dogs, playing with cats, helping with fundraisers, building a Facebook or web page or even doing handyman work around the facility, even fostering pets in your home are all great ways to show your appreciation for the animal shelters and rescues working so hard in your community. . No matter what your skills and specialty, you can show your love for animals when you stand up and volunteer a few hours each week toward their welfare. Volunteers keep the lights on and help save animal shelters around the globe!

3. Give a little or a lot. It’s no secret that most animal shelters and rescues struggle financially. Putting together a fundraiser (whether on-site or online). Throw an animal rescue theme party at your home. Invite your friends, neighbors, co-workers, local businesses, or your church congregation to donate. Your only limit in fund-raising is your own creativity. Many animal welfare organizations also have online wish lists that you can order from or items you can pick up while you’re out shopping or even order through Amazon when you're ordering your monthly supplies. And of course, if you can afford to do so, making a financial donation is always appreciated! If they don’t have a wishlist posted, call or email them to find out what's in short supply and offer to create an online wishlist for them.

4. Helping at Home Make sure that your own pets are spayed and neutered, properly cared for, and have identification. You can make a shelter or rescue worker’s job much easier if your own pet isn’t accidentally “littering”, is properly vaccinated, and has identification in the form of tags, license if required, and a microchip.

5. Say thank you! Shelter and rescue workers and volunteers are some of the most committed people you will ever meet, and their mission of helping homeless, sick, neglected, and abused animals isn’t an easy one. Even a few heartfelt words of gratitude mean so much. So, take a minute to express your gratitude to the people who work at your local shelter or rescue groups. Did you adopt a pet from one of them? Did they provide affordable spay/neuter? Perhaps they helped reunite you with your lost pet or provided behavioral advice that made it possible for your pet to stay in your home. Give them a shout-out on social media, drop off lunch or cookies for the staff and/or mention to municipal leaders what a value they bring to your community.

6. Talk about it with friends Share your rescue story with friends and family as often as you can. When someone expresses their love for your pet, tell them where you got him or her. Share your experience and it could have positive results. How many times has someone talked about how great your cat is? Have you told that person that you wouldn’t have her without the help of ZYX Animal Rescue? It’s time to spark up that conversation!

7. Attend their events and fundraisers Many animal shelters will have an annual fundraiser or community event to celebrate their existence and to raise funds. By attending, or even by simply telling your friends, you are offering a huge amount of support. The last thing an animal shelter wants is to put time and effort into an event just to have low attendance. Follow them on social media and you can stay abreast of what is going on there. You can also set up post notification from that particular page. This way you’ll never miss anything they have going on.

8. Adopt a pet If you’ve been thinking that it’s time to add a pet to your family, consider adopting from a local shelter or rescue group. Search for available cats and dogs near you online. Be sure to find out from the group you are considering adopting from what their adoption process is like and, if it doesn’t feel right to you, move on to another local group.

9. Get crafty! Combine fabric, recyclables, and imagination to bring much-needed fun into the lives of local shelter and rescue pets. You can fashion cage curtains to help shelter cats get some privacy (and stay healthy) or play matchmaker by creating attention-grabbing "Adopt-Me" vests to spotlight available pets at adoption events held by shelters and rescues.

10. Become a foster The value of fosters can't be overrated. They can be lifesavers for pets who can't adapt to shelter life, those who need to be nursed back to health, and orphaned kittens who need someone to step in for their mom (or whose needs are beyond what busy shelter staff can often provide).

11. Be alert. Pay attention to the animals in your neighborhood. Shelters depend on community members to report neglected or abused pets, strays, and injured animals. Report your concerns. Let your shelter know if you suspect animal cruelty.

12. Visit your community shelter. Take a tour of your shelter, and while there, say a big “thank you” to the staff! Words of thanks go a long way to let shelter staff know how much their work is appreciated.

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