Take a minute this week to reflect on the important service the approximately 3,500 animal shelters and the many more rescue organizations around the country provide by offering refuge to an estimated 6 to 8 million homeless animals every year. They can’t save them all—but shelters and rescues find homes for an astonishing number of them. I think of all the fantastic rescue dogs I have known—Lulu, Renzo, Satchel, Chester, Benny, Zipper, Zooma, Kitch and on and on—and I feel enormous gratitude that someone provided a safe bridge from homelessness to home.
This week, National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week  (Nov. 1–12), is a perfect time to channel thankfulness into something more, something concrete to help shelters do their jobs better. Can you help?
Adopt a pet. There are many ways to find the perfect pre-loved companion animal. Stop by your local shelter or begin your search online at theshelterpetproject.org , adoptapet.com  or petfinder.com .
Promote pet adoption. If you have a rescue pet, don’t miss an opportunity to shout it out. Become a fan of a shelter or rescue group’s Facebook page or help tweet their message.
Volunteer. Walking dogs, working adoption events, taking photos, fostering animals—shelters can always use an extra hand. Call or visit your shelter to learn more or rundown local opportunities through VolunteerMatch.org .
Donate funds or supplies. Money is always welcome at shelters, and often you can designate how your donation is used—to help fund low-cost spay/neuter surgery, to support medical treatment for strays, etc. If money is in short, see what supplies your shelter needs, and make a mini-drive among friends, family and coworkers for towels, toys, cleaning supplies and more.
A little goes a long way, especially if all of us who appreciate shelters show it in meaningful ways.