As uncertainty about the economy lingers, the pace of pet abandonment is on
the rise. Largely attributable to the collapse of the housing market in 2007,
the effects of which continue to ripple through our economy, nearly every state
has seen a dramatic increase in the number of homeless animals. During this
short time frame, tens of thousands of companion animals have been surrendered
to rescue organizations, or worse, simply abandoned, left to fend for
You’ve probably read some of the heartrending stories: dogs left behind,
locked in foreclosed homes; a box of kittens dumped in a community park; and
families facing homelessness themselves surrendering to a shelter all of their
pets in a moment of heartbreak. The problem is so severe that some shelters have
exhausted their resources and are forced to refuse new intakes.
As a society of pet lovers, this represents an unprecedented situation in
most of our lifetimes. Now, more than ever, homeless pets need our help.
Many of us want to provide assistance, but don’t know the best way to make a
difference. Fortunately, there are five ways to reach out and make a difference
to pets in need.
1. Volunteer at a shelter
Brimming with new admittances, many shelters urgently need “boots on the
ground”. Volunteers are needed to walk dogs, play with kittens and greet
potential adopters, as well as handle routine feeding and cleaning tasks. In
some cases, you may be able to offer assistance based upon your unique skillset.
If you have a knack for organization, your talents could help streamline
anything from file systems to fundraising appeals. Even if you only volunteer
for only a couple of hours per week, you will still be providing invaluable
2. Donate money
Unfortunately, growing shelter populations are not the only crisis shelters and
animal rescues are experiencing. Organizations of all sizes are struggling with
finances, as personal and corporate donations have dropped off a cliff. As you
might expect, this lack of funding affects every aspect of a shelter’s
operations, including staffing, facility maintenance, veterinary care, food and
medical supplies. Any amount you can spare will be welcomed by your local
shelters. Don’t fall prey to the misconception that small donations don’t make a
difference. Even $5 or $10 can provide several meals for a pet in need.
3. Donate goods
If you prefer to donate physical items rather than cash, please consider
donating items like food, treats, blankets or toys. In most cases, these items
are sorely needed and gratefully accepted at most animal rescue organizations.
Be sure to contact your local shelter to learn their specific needs prior to
deciding what you’ll give. If you can’t afford to give new items, consider doing
some “Fall cleaning” … because old towels dry just as well as new ones! Just
like with financial donations, the gift of goods is tax deductible; just be sure
to confirm that the organization you choose has non-profit status.
4. Foster a homeless pet
Fostering a pet is a great option if you’re not ready to commit to a long-term
relationship with a companion animal. As a temporary adopter, you will not only
provide a loving and healthy environment for a pet in need, but you will also
free up valuable space and resources at rescue facilities. Be aware that many of
these animals are coming from difficult circumstances and may require a good
deal of patience and understanding on your part. To get more information, speak
with your local rescues, veterinary schools or humane societies about foster
programs in your area.
5. Adopt a pet
Lastly, the boldest and most dramatic step you can take also offers the greatest
rewards. Perhaps the best way to combat pet homelessness is by opening your home
to an abandoned pup or kitty. Many shelters maintain an online presence where you can review photos and
descriptions of the companion animals that are available for adoption.
Even if they receive outstanding care during their stay, shelter animals
experience high levels of stress, which can lead to minor illnesses (like
colds). With time, love and good nutrition, these conditions usually quickly
abate. If you adopt, remember to be realistic about your expectations with the
pet and invest time early on acclimating your new family member to their new
If you have ever considered adopting a companion animal in need, the time to
act is now.
If your circumstances prevent you from taking part in any of these solutions,
please keep in mind that simply by purchasing Life’s Abundance products you’ll
be making a positive difference. Every order that you place results in a
contribution to our foundation, which in turn awards financial grants to small
rescues across the country.
No matter how you choose to help during this crisis, you will have my eternal
thanks, and the thanks of the entire Life’s Abundance staff. Together, we truly
can make our world a better place.