The holidays aren’t just for humans; there are many ways to help pets in need this season. Our local animal shelters are a great place to start. By volunteering, donating, or fostering, you can make it a wonderful life for pets in need this year. Our team at Shelden Veterinary Care has compiled these ideas for how to help your local shelter this holiday season.


Did you know that you can volunteer at a local animal shelter? It’s true that you might scoop your share of poop, but there are countless ways to donate your time that will truly benefit the animals and shelter employees.

Scoop poop – We already said it, cleaning is a necessity at the shelter. Shelters are very busy places, and to make them successful and healthy for our cat and dog friends, cleaning is a big priority.

Animal care – Feeding, filling water bowls, and giving TLC is a great way to help. Shelter cats may feel especially stressed in a crowded, noisy environment and could greatly benefit from some extra love and attention.

Walk dogs – The many dogs at the shelter all need daily walks! In addition to getting focused exercise, walking can help dogs burn off the excess stress from being in a kennel. If the shelter has an outdoor play area, taking a dog out for playtime may be another volunteering option. Can it get any better?

Grooming and bathing – Cats and dogs in the shelter do get dirty, as our own pets do. They may need more grooming and brushing (and bathing) than the employees can get to on a daily basis.

Fostering – Some pets simply don’t do well in a shelter environment or may just need a break in a foster home. Opening your doors to an adoptable dog or cat is a great way to give them some extra time and attention, and helps keep them socialized. Fostering allows an animal to take a break from stressful shelter living, gives you a chance to get to know the pet and better inform potential adopters about their personality AND opens up space in the shelter for their teams to save another life! Fostering is temporary and many shelters are willing to work with your timelines in the hopes of sending more pets into suitable homes for short breaks!

No Time, No Problem

If you’re short on time, consider a donation instead. Look at the shelter website for a wish list or donation needs. Always check with your local rescue for specifics, but here are some common needs.

Monetary – A monetary donation can go a long way, and may even be tax deductible.

Warm blankets and old bath towels – Everyone likes to cozy up, and shelters can always use soft warm bedding to make the pets more comfortable.

Old newspaper – Newspaper is often used as a base layer in kennels and cages, and this must be replaced with clean, dry paper at least daily. If your recycling bin is piling up, take the old newspapers on over.

Bags/cans of pet food – Checking with the shelter for a wish list of approved diets is a great first start. Many shelters are UNABLE to accept opened bags of food though, so consider picking up a bag of kibble while running errands specifically for the shelter pets!

Toys, leashes, and grooming tools – These all get lots of use at shelters and need replacing often.

Paper Towels & Toilet Paper Rolls – these empty rolls that usually go straight into the trash or recycling can make EXCELLENT toys for cats hanging out in animal shelters!

Think Adoption

Perhaps the biggest help we can give to our local shelter is to adopt our pets rather than purchase them. The pet overpopulation problem is well known. It’s no surprise that most shelters are running at full capacity. Sadly, millions of healthy dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year, generally because there are not enough loving homes to go around.

Here are some tips to help your local shelter this holiday season with adoption.

Adopt your own pet – If you are considering a new pet this holiday, reach out to your local shelter to find out about their next adoption day.

Share, like, and comment – Supporting your local shelter social media pages is a great way to get the word out. Many shelters post new arrivals, feature adoptable pets, and announce community adoption days on their social media outlets. Use your social media pages for good!

Encourage friends and family – Be an advocate for adoption in your own circle.

Check local shelter and rescue websites for links and ideas about how to help during this holiday season – and beyond! And contact us if you’d like ideas and tips on caring for your newly adopted pet.