Helping your shelter means more than just walking dogs

When people think of volunteering at their local animal shelter, their first thought is usually to volunteer as a dog walker. But what if walking big, exuberant dogs doesn't appeal to you or doesn't sound safe to you? The good news is that there are plenty of other ways to help the shelter and their animals.

Cats and small animals need volunteers too. Volunteers can spend time petting and brushing cats or letting them play and explore in an exercise room. Rabbits also appreciate time out of their kennels. They love hopping around and exploring and will often sit in your lap to be cuddled and eat some lettuce. Guinea pigs also enjoy being held on your lap while nibbling some tasty lettuce.

There are always projects. For example, if your local shelter has a pet food bank, they may need help distributing food to community members who need temporary assistance feeding their animals. The shelter may also need assistance with administrative tasks such as copying and stocking informational brochures for the public.

You can even help from home. Follow your local shelter's Facebook page and share their posts. Sharing posts about their adoptable animals might help those animals find their new homes. If your shelter posts lost animals who have been brought to their shelter, then sharing those posts can help them be reunited with their families. Check your shelter's website to see if they need items like cat beds which can be sewn at home (there are even instructions for no-sew beds for those not handy with needle and thread). Your shelter may also have a Wish List on Amazon if you'd like to purchase items for the sheltered animals.

Fostering saves lives. Have you thought about becoming a foster parent? Almost every shelter needs foster homes for kittens and puppies. Some may even need foster homes for adult animals. Fostering animals is very rewarding and can become addicting.

Not all dogs are big and exuberant. If you'd like to walk dogs for your shelter, then just let them know that you'd only like to walk small dogs or elderly dogs. The shelter will respect your request.

Hopefully, these suggestions will inspire you to do what you're comfortable with to help the animals at your local shelter. We're sure you'll find it very rewarding once you get started.

Laura Atwood is the public relations coordinator for the Anchorage Animal Care and Control.

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