As your dog curls up next to you this winter, you’ll feel the cozy warmth of knowing you found each other. But dogs in shelters are still waiting for that lucky match. You can’t adopt all the dogs, but you can lend a hand with donations that will brighten those dogs’ days and help the hard-working shelter staff who care for them.
To find out more about what pet shelters and rescues need most during the holidays, and year-round, we spoke to some dedicated staff of these organizations.
Time and services
First off, you might have a skill to donate. Maybe you’re an amazing photographer who could volunteer to take photos of incoming shelter dogs. Perhaps you build websites and could offer to revamp a shelter’s web presence. Get creative!
Terri Inglis, executive director of the Homeward Pet Adoption Center in Woodinville, Washington, said one of the most meaningful gifts this year was from a family who was touring the U.S. and giving baths to shelter dogs.
Most needed shelter donations
If you do have the means to donate, shelters we spoke to emphasized how much they appreciate cash or checks that allow them the flexibility to purchase what they need. Many shelters stretch your donated dollar by purchasing supplies in bulk and at cheaper prices.
Shelters also appreciate gift cards to stores like Walmart, Amazon, and Target where they can shop for a variety of goods.
At a pet shelter, they need a constant supply of food to keep all the hungry bellies full. Before you donate food, check with the shelter if they have preferred brands. Some common food requests include:
- Puppy milk replacer (available at specialty stores or online)
- Canned goat’s milk for dogs (available at specialty stores or online)
- Dry dog and cat food
- Canned wet food
- Treats for dogs and cats
Cleaning and office supplies
Taking care of dogs can be a messy business, so shelters will gladly take cleaning supplies to keep the facilities in tip-top shape. In addition, they need office supplies. Common requests include:
- Hand sanitizer
- Paper towels
- Garbage bags
- Cleaning detergent
- Cotton towels
- Exam gloves
- Printer paper
- Ink cartridges
Toys and accessories
Shelters need toys that keep dogs busy, along with basic accessories like leashes. Make sure you clarify which toys the shelter prefers, and only donate new items. Common requests include:
- Leashes in a variety of sizes
- Puppy pads
- Food bowls
- Dog sweaters
- Flea medicine
- Poop bags
- Hardy toys like the KONG
If you donate, make it easy on the shelter staff by checking ahead of time how and when they prefer to receive items. Find out about their wish lists, which help by making donations an easy add-on to online shopping. Here are two such wish lists, from Homeward Pet Adoption Center in WA and Last Hope in Wantagh, New York.
When you donate to a pet shelter, you’ll help a dog in need to stay happy and healthy until she finds her forever home.