If you are like me, you can’t help but tear up when you see one of those commercials asking for money to help abused and neglected animals. Seeing those poor cats and dogs in cages and thinking you’d adopt them all if you could, really tears at your heart strings and makes you want to do whatever you can to help. I don’t even want to think about what some people do to these poor pets, and when I hear awful stories on the news, I cringe and want to do something to help.
Don’t be fooled by commercials on television. Those well-produced commercials are likely soliciting donations to the Humane Society of the United States. Their commercials prey on people like us who are desperate to help neglected and abused pets, those of us who cannot bear to see suffering. When you donate money to the HSUS, your money goes to lawyers, lobbyists, more fundraising efforts, salaries, and definitely NOT shelters.
The name “Humane Society of the United States” suggests to most people that the HSUS is some sort of umbrella group for local humane societies and shelters. This is absolutely untrue. While the HSUS has never claimed to be such an umbrella organization, they have also done nothing to dispel the myth. And, while the name suggests that they run shelters, the HSUS runs a total of ZERO shelters. Of the money they do receive in donations (HSUS has a $100 million annual budget), less than 1% actually goes to help shelters in some way. In 2008 it was only 0.5% that went to shelters. You can read more about the HSUS on the website HumaneWatch.
Watch this little video for a parody of the commercials and what the organization actually does with your well-intentioned money.
So, how can you help, I mean REALLY help?
It’s as simple as calling your local shelter. Almost all local animal shelters are in constant need of supplies, volunteers, and money. You can donate cash directly, bring in something from the shelter’s “wish list”, or, better yet, volunteer for a couple of hours. I went down to my local shelter to gather some information to share with you and I learned that there is NOTHING better you can do for your local shelter than helping them directly. So, here are some resources to help you help rescued animals.
1. Find your local shelter or rescue group. This part is easy. Just go to PetFinder.com, under the search for shelters link, and type in your zip code. You’ll get a list of the shelters closest to you. Click on one and you’ll get some great information – usually location, phone number, email address, pets for adoption, wish list, etc. This is a great place to start. If there isn’t a “wish list” of items, simply call the shelter and ask what they need the most. At the top of my local shelter’s wish list is dog food and cat litter. They also want things like old newspapers and towels (used ones), buckets, and soap. So, before throwing this stuff away, check to see if your local shelter could use it.
2. Volunteer! If you can’t afford to buy an extra bag of food, you can always volunteer. My local shelter asks for volunteers for things like taking pets to clinics for spay/neuter procedures, mowing the grass, washing dishes and laundry, and even picking up aluminum cans to bring in a little extra cash. Even if you can’t do it all the time, just once can make a difference or take a little bit of the load off of someone who spends their days caring for rescued pets.
3. Cash Donations. Yes, your local shelter could use some money! Donate directly to your local shelter!
4. Share available pets with your friends! This may seem trivial, but sharing the photos and info of local pets that are available for adoption can be a big help. When a pet is adopted, there is room for another adoptable pet in a shelter. And, getting someone to click on a PetFinder link may lead them to search for a pet, even if the one you shared isn’t a good match for their family. Make a commitment to share one adoptable pet a week. PetFinder makes this really easy, with a “like” button beside each adoptable pet’s profile. Make sure you click “like”, write a comment, and click “post to facebook” so that the link is shared on your wall.
These are just a few things you can do to help out your local shelter. If you have any more resources to share, please let us know in the comments section. We’d love to know what you do to help rescued animals in your area.