|Robin Tierney is a freelancer who writes about health and environment issues. She also has written numerous pet articles for a rescue group in
Maryland: PAW: the Partnership for Animal Welfare:
Sherry Woodard is the dog training and care consultant at Best Friends. She develops resources and provides consulting services nationally to help
achieve Best Friends’ No More Homeless Pets mission.
|Articles in the Archives:
Before You Decide to Adopt a Dog: Determining if You're Ready Are You Really Ready To Get A Dog? By Robin Tierney
Positive Reinforcement:Training with Praise and Rewards By Sherry Woodard
Internet fraud artists hurt pet lovers financially and emotionally By Sharon Nataline
Are you a seamstress?
Like to embroider?
Know a seamstress/embroider?
"Safety in the Sewing Room"
by GiGi McBreen of Charming Station
|What Can One Person Do?
Here are some suggestions about items to donate and ways to volunteer. The suggestions are based on what many local animal organizations
and animal control officers typically need.
Please note: It’s always a good idea to start by checking with your local rescue group or shelter to see what kind of help they really need, Some
groups may be desperately in need of materials, like dogs beds, that you’d be willing to provide. Another group may benefit more by getting help
with publicity. Checking with the staff first ensures that your donation or service will genuinely be of help to the organization.
How can I find a local shelter or humane organization?
If you e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we can provide a listing of Best Friends Network member organizations in your local community.
You can also contact Pets911 to find local groups and animal control shelters. Visit their website at www.pets911.com or call them toll-free at 1-
Things You May Be Able to Give
You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Perhaps you are no longer using some of these items around the house, or you may spot them at a
yard sale or thrift store.
Basic things many shelters can use:
• Bedding: towels, sheets, blankets, cat or dog beds, carpet squares
• Cleaning supplies
• Cat and dog food, cat litter, toys, collars, leashes
• Scratching posts, metal bowls, dog crates, grooming supplies
Doghouses. If you have an old doghouse that isn’t being used, you can clean it up and pass it along for a dog in your neighborhood who
could use it. Or give it to your local animal control agency and ask that it be given to a needy dog. Sometimes feral cat groups can refurbish and
Office stuff. The next time your office is upgrading equipment, computers, or furniture, ask about donating the old stuff to the local shelter.
Basic office supplies are often needed, too.
Coupons. Some shelters can use free or discount coupons for animal food or cat litter.
Medical supplies. Many spay/neuter clinics and some shelters can use medical supplies.
Humane traps. Feral cat caregivers are often in need of more humane traps for transporting cats to and from veterinarians for spay/neuter.
Use of a photocopier. Many groups cannot afford a copy machine and would appreciate an opportunity to duplicate flyers and forms.
Prizes for fundraising auctions or raffles. Many organizations can’t afford to buy prizes for these events, so they appreciate any donations.
Things You May Want to Do
Be a foster home. Open your home to an animal who needs a place to live and learn until he/she can find a home.
Set up a donation coin can or food program. Create donation cans and place them in area businesses or put pet-food donation collection
bins at local supermarkets.
Fix an animal. Help a friend or acquaintance fix their pet. To find a local low-cost spay/neuter program, call 1-800-248-PETS or 1-888-
PETS911 (or visit their website at www.pets911.com).
Donate your special skills and talents.
• Computer skills: Create or manage a website for a local group, or help create a mailing list database.
• Graphic design and desktop publishing skills: Design a logo, brochure, newsletter, or poster for a local shelter or rescue group.
• Sewing, knitting, or crocheting talent: Offer to make pet beds or catnip mice. Visit the Snuggles Project website (www.snugglesproject.org) for
information on making pet “security blankets” for shelter animals.
• Building/construction skills: Make repairs around the shelter, or build doghouses or feral cat shelters and feeding stations.
• Writing talent: Offer to write their newsletter or an article for the local paper.
• Organizational skills: Help out with administrative tasks or event planning.
• Gardening skills: Ask if you can help beautify the landscaping around the shelter.
Donate professional services. Legal advice, accounting, public relations, dog training, grooming, graphic design, and printing are a few of the
services that most organizations can use.
Provide care for shelter animals. Volunteer to clean cages, or feed, groom, or walk the animals in a local shelter.
Feed a feral, or two, or three. Many organizations practice trap/neuter/return and can use help with feeding cats. An offer to help with feeding
once or twice a week can provide a nice break for a busy caregiver. To learn more about trap/neuter/return, visit the Alley Cat Allies website at
Promote animal adoptions. Here are some ways you can help:
• List homeless animals on an adoption website (contact us for a list of sites).
• Photograph shelter animals for use on adoption websites, newspaper ads or posters.
• Create adoption posters and hang them around the community.
Provide transportation. Here are some ways you can help:
• Pick up donated pet food and supplies from local businesses.
• Drive animals to and from the vet clinic or adoption events.
• Provide transportation for people who need to get their pet fixed but cannot drive.
Provide office help. Here are some ways you can help:
• Write thank-you notes.
• Return phone calls.
• Do paperwork, record-keeping, data entry.
Provide emergency help. Make yourself available on an emergency basis to do whatever is needed.
Speak up. Sometimes what’s needed is a concerned citizen who will:
• Talk with local elected officials, attend city/county council meetings, and voice concern for the animals.
• Write a letter to the editor of the local paper to point out the contributions of a local organization, veterinarian, or others who have helped
animals in need; to address current community animal issues; or to provide general information on spaying and neutering pets.
• Watch for pending legislation on local animal issues, and speak on behalf of the animals.
Ask the local paper to run a free ad. Many local newspapers will run a free ad to promote an animal in need of a home at the local shelter. You
might be able to help by getting a photo and description to the paper each week. If the paper cannot donate the space, you may be able to get
a local animal-related business to sponsor the ad.
Do tabling. Offer to set up an information table for a local organization at a community event or fair, or outside the local supermarket, pet
supply store or health food store.
Focus on gathering addresses for their mailing list and handing out information about the group. Be sure to have on hand nice photos of
animals that have been helped and, if possible, a real animal in need of a home.
Seek donations for a local group. Circulate a “Wish List” of items needed for the local shelter around your work place and gather the items on a
set day. Or, offer to approach local businesses on behalf of an organization to raise funds or seek in-kind donations. Some stores will donate
damaged packages of pet food.
Talk with your veterinarian. Thank your veterinarian for whatever help he or she may provide to homeless animals and local shelters. If your vet
does not already help, ask if he or she would consider providing some discount services to the local shelter, or donating a few spay/neuter
surgeries for feral cats.
Share information on animal care. Best Friends has many informative publications that can be downloaded from our website from the Resources
section of No More Homeless Pets. We have publications that help promote adoption rather than buying pets (The Adoption Option), that
provide information on spay/neuter (Myths and Questions About Having Babies) and how to help feral cats (Caring for Feral Cats).
Get publicity. Call the local TV station or newspaper to let them know about a special event or the work of a local organization and suggest that
they report on it. Or, write an article for the local newspaper yourself.
Tell your friends and neighbors. Don’t underestimate the value of word-of-mouth. Tell others what you are doing and why. Invite them to help
Join the Best Friends Network. The Network is a global online community of people who care about animals. Through the Network, you can
participate in discussions, keep up with news in the animal world, and work with other members to help animals. Members of the Network can join
established online communities or start their own. For more information, visit http://network.bestfriends.org.
Larger Projects You Could Help to Organize
Plan a fundraising event. This could be as simple as holding a yard sale and donating the proceeds to a shelter, or as involved as planning a
benefit auction or walk-a-thon. Our website has helpful information on planning some types of events. One example is the publication called How
to Run a Successful Walk for the Animals.
Organize an adoption event. We have a manual on planning Super Adoption events and off-site adoption programs. Called Super Adoption:
Finding Homes Hundreds at a Time, you can download it from our website.
Coordinate a local feral cat spay/neuter program or one-day event. We can offer advice on how to do this.
Start a local organization or program. Create a community animal welfare group or volunteer brigade to help other local groups. To get started,
you can download these publications from our website: Starting a Nonprofit Organization to Help the Animals and Building a Volunteer Brigade.
Start a community e-group. An e-group can help unite like-minded people, spread the word about animals in need of homes, promote local
events, and advertise volunteer opportunities. An excellent model is the Austin Pets Alive No-Kill Handbill. You can get more information at www.
Create a local event to help promote a national day. You could plan a local observance
of National Homeless Animals’ Day (www.isaronline.org/campaign.htm), National Feral Cat Day (www.alleycat.org), or Spay Day USA (www.ddaf.
Start a Week for the Animals. We have a manual called How to Organize Your Own Week for the Animals to help you create a Week for the
Animals in your town, city or state.
Create a local directory. Create a listing of local animal services and humane groups, and provide it to local social service agencies and vet
clinics. Information on one such guide, created for Dallas, Texas, can be found at
|Senior Partners: Older Americans and Mature Pets
By Rebecca Simmons
When Marjorie Smith walked into the Idaho Humane Society in Boise several years ago, the 72-year-old was struggling with the recent loss of her son
and the 9-11 tragedy.
Like thousands of other seniors, Smith was battling a problem that threatened to consume her. The retired secretary wasn't suffering from cancer or
heart disease, but from loneliness. Divorced and living alone, Smith was looking for something, or someone, to help her.
Gus had been waiting patiently, but his family still hadn't come back for him. A 10-year-old Scottish terrier, he had spent his entire life with the same
family. But once the children had grown up and moved away, Gus was forced to spend his days alone. His family felt that they didn't have the time to
take care of him anymore and decided to relinquish Gus to the local shelter.
It's a common scenario all across America. Divorce ends marriages, children move, family and friends pass away and, as we age, loneliness and
depression become all too familiar. But many seniors have found a way to combat isolation—by adopting a pet through their local shelter. Thinking
Learn more about the benefits of adopting, where to find your new best friend, and what to expect at Proud2Adopt.org.
When Smith saw Gus walk into the Humane Society's waiting room, she was impressed with his attitude. "He walked with dignity and made me smile,"
Smith adopted Gus on the spot, and they became fast friends, spending their days taking walks around the neighborhood and lounging in the rocking
chair. "We bonded immediately, and I have never been sorry for a moment that I went to the shelter that evening," said Smith.
Combating Loneliness, Improving Health
"Emotionally, pets can bring new meaning and purpose to the life of a senior who is living far away from friends or family," said Kelly Connolly, HSUS
issues specialist for companion animals. "The unconditional love and commitment to their owners is almost like free therapy. They can act as friends,
entertainers, and warm, fuzzy bundles of joy.
Having a pet in an elderly person's life can offer them a sense of well being, a sense of encouragement, and even a reason for living. Being
responsible for another life often gives new meaning to the lives of those who are living alone or far from loved ones. Caring for and providing a loving
home to a companion animal also helps elderly people to remain active and stay healthy."
Gus has made Smith a believer in the power of pet companionship. "He has changed [my life] completely. I'm sure he has added years to my life. I
have found that adopting a pet can help a person after a death of a loved one or just being lonely. I can't imagine what it would be like without him. I
am lonely only if I have to leave him at the vet for a short time."
In addition to easing loneliness, pets may also make seniors healthier. Studies suggest that contact with animals can lower blood pressure. Research
also indicates a link between pet ownership and an increased survival rate for cardiac patients. Other potential health benefits can include decreased
stress, reduced bone loss, lowered cholesterol levels, and improved blood circulation.
"For years, it's been medically documented that companion animals—such as dogs, cats and rabbits—help people live longer and healthier lives,"
Taking the Next Step
Although animals make great companions for people of any age, pets can have important benefits for seniors. But before adopting a new companion,
seniors need to understand the amount of dedication that goes into caring for an animal. Seniors need to be sure they have the time and the means
to care for a pet, both physically and financially.
It's also important to consider the kind of pet to adopt. Animal care professionals often advise seniors to consider adopting an adult dog or cat. An
older animal may be a better fit for their lifestyle than a puppy or kitten.
"Unlike a puppy or kitten, adult animals are more likely to be calm, already housetrained and less susceptible to unpredictable behavior," said
Connolly. "Older pets are often more easily physically managed by seniors than a stronger, more excitable younger animal."
Ready, Set, Adopt
Once the decision to adopt a pet has been made there are many programs out there to help. As more people discover the benefits of animal
companionship for older Americans, resources and programs have emerged to make finding and keeping a new pet much easier.
The first place to which seniors should turn is their local shelter. Adopting from a shelter has its advantages. Not only do they have a great selection
of adult animals for adoption, but they also have purebred animals. In fact, on average, purebreds account for about 25 percent of a shelter's dog
If you have a specific breed in mind that's not available at your local shelter, breed placement groups (often referred to as "rescues") are also a
Adopting from a shelter is not only a great way to help out a homeless animal, but it's also cost-effective. Adoption fees, which are extremely low
compared with the cost of purchasing an animal from a pet store or breeder, typically include vaccinations as well as spay or neuter procedures.
Another advantage of shelters is that many of them offer senior programs. The Idaho Humane Society, where Smith adopted Gus, has placed
thousands of pets with seniors through a program called Pets for People, which waives the adoption fee, spay/neuter charge and initial vaccination
when a senior adopts an adult pet.
Check with your local shelter to see if it has a seniors program. If not, shelters can still offer a wealth of information and support to new pet owners.
"Was it fate that brought [Gus and I] together at the shelter that day?" Smith wondered.
Maybe the stars were aligned just right or it was the pair's lucky day … or maybe seniors and pets are just meant to be together.
Rebecca Simmons writes for the Companion Animals section of The HSUS
Reprinted with permission from The Humane Society of the United States.
" Find the Pit Bull Game"
How Do I Help an Animal?
The poor dog chained in your neighbor’s backyard looks underfed.
The man next door beats his dog whenever it digs a hole in the yard or
chews on the lawn furniture.
You witness a neighbor's child put his cat in a box and then kick it
around the yard.
What can you do?
Click on Bella to find out