5 Ways to Make a Difference in the Lives of Shelter Dogs

By Claudia Kawczynska, December 2017, Updated March 2022
Photo by Kyla Goodell

Photo by Kyla Goodell

There are many ways to make a difference in the lives of dogs. It sounds a little counterintuitive but dog and cat food, litter and leashes aren’t at the top of most shelters’ wish lists, but paper, pens, phones, towels are. At least, according to the animal shelters and nonprofits.

While cash contributions are usually preferred, not everyone is in a position to give. The benefit to in-kind donations (clothes, shoes, food, etc.) is that folks who want to help but are short on cash may have items in their homes that they no longer need (a replaced printer, for example) but which could help a local shelter. The Giving Effect, a free website that launched last month, connects donors with items to spare directly with the organizations in need. Win-win.

Here are a few ideas for you:

Donate to a local animal shelter or to one in an area of the country that might not be well-funded. Check out their wish list; do they need leashes, towels, collars, toys, harnesses, dog beds, or flea medication? Get your dog park friends to pitch in, too. Go to smile.amazon.com to give while you shop. Often shelters are in need of:

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  1. Office supplies (computers, printers, fax machines, phones, paper, pens)
  2. Cleaning supplies (bleach, laundry detergent, Fantastik, Windex)
  3. Blankets, sheets and towels
  4. Miscellaneous items that can be sold to raise money
  5. Building supplies (to construct fences, crates, dog runs)

Foster a shelter dog or sponsor one—most shelters have sponsorship programs.

Bake up homemade cookies or purchase some for the shelter workers and treats for the dogs.

Purchase a commemorative calendar from a shelter or rescue group.

Donate dog food/treats to a homeless shelter that accommodates pets.

Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 92: Winter 2017