By: NobleHour Special Contributor Latasha Doyle
It is estimated that, worldwide, nearly one million domestic pets are abused or mistreated every year, and one pet is abused approximately every 10 seconds in the United States. The numbers are startling and seem insurmountable, but while many people feel helpless or angry in the face of such a horrible truth, there is something you can do to bring about real change: volunteer.
There is no doubt that volunteering and donating your time, money, and energy into advocating for animals nets fantastic results. Shelters and programs with a higher volume of volunteers could, quite possibly, manage to care for, adopt, and protect more animals than shelters without volunteer support. Any assistance you can provide goes a long, long way in keeping animals safe.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can put your passion to good use by helping animals, as well as sharing awareness about the prevention of animal cruelty. Here are seven ways you can make a difference by volunteering:
- Volunteer in a shelter. Visit a local shelter or humane society and apply for volunteer work. Keep in mind that there are often strict rules, background checks, and age and physical limitations placed on these volunteers. Also keep in mind that this is an emotionally demanding opportunity, and many shelters ask people to make sure they can manage the harsh realities of shelter life before entering.
- Volunteer at an adoption event. Many shelters and animal adoption programs need help setting up, putting on, and working an adoption event. You can offer your time and your enthusiasm to help find new and loving homes for these adorable animals.
- Be an advocate. As the saying goes, “If you see something, say something.” Many local animal control units are willing to remove animals from unhealthy or abusive conditions, so call if you feel an animal is being mistreated in your area. Volunteering your time in such a way could save a life.
- Share your skills. If you can’t volunteer in a shelter, utilize your skills in other areas. Photographers are often needed to take cute pictures of the newest shelter additions. Offer your skills as a website designer to create a user-friendly site for a program. Love being on social media? Share posts about the new pets up for adoption. Whatever you’re good at, you can use it to help animals!
- Fundraise. Start a relationship with your local shelter or humane society, and start fundraising for specific projects, or collect donations. You can canvas your neighborhood, area schools, and businesses, and ask family and friends to donate to the cause. It’s also becoming a popular trend to donate to animal advocacy groups in lieu of wedding, birthday, or holiday gifts! There are approximately 13,600 independent shelters in the U.S., meaning they have no official sources of funding or support. Show your support by helping them keep their doors open!
- Gather donations. Animal shelters and advocacy groups don’t just need money. Why not have a pet drive at your work, school, church, or group gathering? Shelters are always in need of pet beds, food, bowls, collars and leashes, litter and litter pans, basic hygiene supplies, and everything you can imagine a pet needs. You can donate your secondhand pet items, as well. Just because you can’t volunteer in a shelter doesn’t mean you can’t help animals in major ways. Call your local shelter for more information about their specific needs.
- Be a foster parent. Many shelters and humane societies are severely overpopulated, which is why approximately 2.4 million companion animals are euthanized every year. Because of this, these programs have started seeking foster volunteers who essentially take animals into their own homes and care for them until they can be adopted. This is a mutually rewarding experience; giving an animal a safe and loving home while benefiting from unconditional animal love! Check out your local shelter or humane society’s standards for becoming a foster parent, as each program differs.
Animal Volunteers Also Benefit
There’s one more thing to animal volunteering: it changes you. Being a part of an effort to house, care for, and adopt animals will make you feel like you are making a difference - and you are! Seeing the direct benefits of your actions is incredibly rewarding, and many animal rights advocates continue to volunteer because they see the results first hand.
In addition, multiple studies have found that people who frequently care for or live with animals are at a much lower risk of developing depression, have less stress and anxiety, and are generally healthier than their non-animal-loving counterparts. Not only can you save an animal’s life, but you can save yours as well. The AARP has even noted animal fostering as a mutually beneficial scenario: older adults can care for an animal in their home, benefiting from the connection to their pet while being able to provide an especially stable environment for the foster pet.
Having a mission in life shouldn’t be underestimated. Being the voice for millions of animals is a worthy cause, one that you can join today by volunteering however you see fit. Spread awareness this month about the prevention of cruelty to animals, and see what a difference you can make!
Let NobleHour help you find meaningful service opportunities, track your volunteer hours, and measure your impact!
Latasha Doyle is a writer and long term care volunteer living outside of Denver, Colorado. When she's not writing or volunteering, she enjoys crocheting, Netflix marathons, and planning her next trip.