101 Ways to Help a Shelter Dog Without Adopting


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Hey there! I see you switching the channel as fast as you can when the music to that heartwrenching rescue dog commercial comes on. If this sounds familiar, then we’re in the same tribe. Every time I see a dog in need I want to help.  And for good reason. According to the ASPCAOpens in a new tab., 3.1 million dogs enter shelters in the U.S. every year. So what can we do?

Maybe you’ve considered adopting a shelter dog, but it isn’t in the cards now. That’s okay. There are plenty of ways to help shelter dogs without adopting them. You can donate, volunteer, foster, follow, participate, and share. Look at the complete list of 101 ways to help a shelter dog and see how you can help today.

  1. Foster an animal in need until it finds a forever home.
  2. Join the social media pages of local shelters and animal rescues and share their adoptable pets.
  3. Donate old blankets and bedding.
  4. Donate cash.
  5. Inquire about shelter and rescue fundraisers and participate.
  6. Sign up with Amazon SmileOpens in a new tab. and donate to your favorite shelter or dog rescue.
  7. Donate dog beds.
  8. Offer to transport animals in need to relocate to shelters and rescues.
  9. Donate tennis balls.
  10. Volunteer for feeding time.
  11. Donate puppy playpens.
  12. Offer your social media, web design, or graphic design services pro bono.
  13. Help with tech and social media work if that’s your area of expertise.
  14. Donate toys.
  15. Pre-pay for some services at a local veterinarian.
  16. Take photos of adoptable pets.
  17. Donate laundry detergent.
  18. Donate bleach.
  19. Volunteer to clean kennels.
  20. Buy items on a shelter’s Amazon wishlist.
  21. Donate cleaning supplies.
  22. Use the ResQwalk app to raise money every time you take your dog for a walk.
  23. Like, share, and comment on social media posts to boost visibility.
  24. Donate office supplies.
  25. Bring lunch or homemade baked goods to the rescue staff to say thanks.
  26. Donate collars, harnesses, and leashes.
  27. Check their websites for wishlists and share them with friends and family.
  28. Make sure your pets are spayed or neutered.
  29. Donate food or treats.
  30. Volunteer to walk dogs.
  31. Ask for donations on social media for your birthday.
  32. Ask local officials to support the budget of local shelters.
  33. Create items like “Adopt Me” handkerchiefs for the dogs.
  34. Donate food dishes.
  35. Take a shelter dog to an obedience class.
  36. Distribute flyers for adoption events.
  37. Are you a photographer? Join HeartSpeak.
  38. Organize a bake sale.
  39. Take a shelter dog home for the weekend.
  40. Donate grooming supplies.
  41. Donate pet meds.
  42. Volunteer to help repair things at the facility.
  43. Are you an accountant? Volunteer to help with bookkeeping.
  44. Read books to dogs at the shelter.
  45. Shop at the Humane Society’s Zazzle store.
  46. Educate others about spaying and neutering.
  47. Spread the word about vouchers for spaying and neutering.
  48. Sponsor a pet or a shelter.
  49. Buy cruelty-free cleaning supplies.
  50. Organize a food drive.
  51. Sign up for email alerts from rescues and shelters.
  52. Subscribe to the blogs.
  53. Buy things on their website affiliate links.
  54. Attend sponsored events by your local shelter.
  55. Make a memorial gift in honor of a friend or family member.
  56. Shop at Puppy Friendly pet storesOpens in a new tab. (anti-puppy mills).
  57. Encourage pet stores to join the Puppy Friendly list.
  58. Donate your used vehicle.
  59. Purchase pet health insurance from PetPlan using code HSUS20 for a $20 donation to HSUS.
  60. Shop at the Humane Society storefront on Amazon.
  61. Buy cruelty-free cosmetics.
  62. Subscribe to All Animals Magazine.
  63. Participate in eBay for charity.
  64. Encourage your employer to have a dog-friendly work environment.
  65. Keep current on local, state, and federal legislation regarding shelters and rescues.
  66. Work to pass ordinances in your community – leash ordinances, chained dogs, puppy mills.
  67. Take the Animal Rescue Team training.
  68. Name HSUS or a local rescue as a beneficiary in your will.
  69. Check that your workplace giving program lists shelters or rescues. Ask if there’s an employer match program.
  70. Make a memorial donation to honor a lost pet.
  71. Donate pet shampoo.
  72. Set up a monthly recurring gift from your checking account.
  73. Invite a Humane Society expert to lecture at a school or university.
  74. Sponsor an elementary class with the Nose To Tail Program.
  75. Never buy from a puppy mill.
  76. Check current fundraising efforts by HSUS
  77. Download a free fundraiser toolkit for your workplace, classroom, or community.
  78. Establish a World Spay Day Event. https://hsvma.memberclicks.net/spayday
  79. Donate costumes, bow ties, or handkerchiefs for picture day.
  80. Sponsor a billboard – spay & neuter, stop puppy mills, etc.
  81. Opt-in to receive text message alerts from HSUS.
  82. Donate brain game toys for dogs.
  83. Donate to have dogs microchipped.
  84. Put a Petfinder widget Opens in a new tab.on your website.
  85. Donate gently used pet items.
  86. Set up a donation registry for your wedding or event.
  87. Advertise adoptable petsOpens in a new tab. on your business Facebook page and add a donate button.
  88. Report puppy mills, animal hoarding, and game fighting.
  89. Start an animal rescue organization.
  90. Spend some time teaching dogs basic commands at the shelter.
  91. Start an awareness newsletter or column in your local paper.
  92. Join a “Friends of the Shelter” group.
  93. Donate your vacation by spending time helping at a local rescue.
  94. Buy some gifts from iheartdogsOpens in a new tab..
  95. Gift your Christmas money to a shelter.
  96. Are you a wine lover? Shop at Rescue Dog WinesOpens in a new tab..
  97. Coffee lover? Try Grounds and Hounds CoffeeOpens in a new tab..
  98. Need a cool gift? Shop at Heart BarksOpens in a new tab. where every purchase gets a $30-$50 rescue donation.
  99. Get a Bissell CrossWave. Your purchase supports Bissell Pet Foundation.
  100. Get your pet’s next collar at Tags For HopeOpens in a new tab..
  101. Like Vodka? Drink Tito’s Vodka. The company donates to animals, has a pet-friendly work environment, and helps stray dogs in the community.

How many ways can you help a shelter dog? Make a pact to pick at least three ways per year. Why not turn it into a fun challenge by inviting friends to join? You can start right now by sharing this list. A shelter dog will thank you!

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