October is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. This month, like Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month in June, is so important to recognize and celebrate because of the over 4 million companion animals that lose their lives in shelters each year. That’s about 11,000 precious souls daily that are unable to find homes. So whether you have a dog (or five) at home or not, if you love dogs please get off your patootie and do just one thing this month to help a shelter dog.

What sort of things can you do (that won’t take a lot of time or money)? Here’s just a few ideas:

  • Call your local shelter or animal protection organization and ask them what they most need. It may be surprising that they need paper towels, laundry detergent or gas cards for transporters. Don’t assume that the shelter needs food, toys or treats (although many do). Ask them or check the shelter’s website wish list for items that they need.
  • Clean our your linen closet and donate clean linens to your local shelter.
  • Offer to volunteer to walk the shelter dogs. Not only will you get fresh air, sunshine and exercise, but you will have the company of a buddy who has lost everything and just needs someone who cares to spend a little time.
  • If you struggle going in to a shelter, offer to do things outside of the shelter to help, such as transporting dogs to other organizations or to their new home, to do a home check on a potential adopter, to pick up supplies, to coordinate a fundraiser, and so on.
  • If you have children, have them ask their teacher if they can work on a project to benefit the shelter pets. Again, ask the shelter what is most needed and then put the kids to work!
  • If you volunteer for a community organization, invite your shelter to speak to your group and then discuss how your group can support your shelter.
  • If you love to write, blog or post stories on social media sites of specific dogs that are desperately looking for a new home. Friending your local shelter’s social media page will give you plenty of information to share.
  • Open your home to be a foster parent for an elderly, sick, or sad pet.
  • Tell everyone you know to please adopt from your local shelter.

For a greater list of ways to help, pick up a copy of my book Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets. It is full of hundreds of ideas of how to help pets.

The main goal is to get up and do something. So many people tell me “I could never go in to a shelter because I would feel sad and would want to take them all home.”  If every person who thought that actually garnered the courage to volunteer at a shelter, we would see a dramatic increase in adoptions, and volunteers could help the shelter with projects to be more welcoming for both people and pets. So we really do need to get beyond those selfish beliefs. After all, if you truly do love animals, you need to help.

And I can honestly tell you, there is no greater joy than helping a struggling shelter. Imagine if you were to lose your home and family and sat scared, cold and shivering with fear whether you would live or die. Every single person who loves animals would not hesitate to lift that pet into their arms and give comfort. So why are we denying the shelter pets this same comfort? Helping one animal feel better, comforting a scared pet, talking or singing to a pet, giving a soft blanket and a soft touch will not only help the pet, it will help you. And when you help your first pet find a home, you’ll be hooked and go back to do it all over again for the next one.

So this month, while we celebrate our shelter dogs, take a step and do something to help. You will be thanked with tail wags, body wiggles and wet kisses. And the worst thing that will happen is that you welcome home a new family member.

Please share other ideas of how you are helping shelter dogs this month! For me, I’m hoping that the local shelter will accept my offer to provide energy healing to some of the more stressed-out dogs. Paws crossed that they agree!

All my best,

Allie, hanging out with Under Dog!

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