Getting Involved

Creative Ways to Help Animal Shelters

People often tell me that they love animals, but they simply cannot adopt another one nor do they have the time to volunteer every week. Fortunately, there are many other things you can do to help animal shelters besides adopting and volunteering. Here are some creative ways to help animal shelters in need:

Take photos. They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words. Often times a photograph of a homeless animal is their only chance at getting noticed. If you have experience with photography, maybe you could donate your time to teach shelter employees how to photograph pets so that they are more marketable. Or if you have the time, you could help take photos or videos yourself.

Clean out your closets. Animal shelters are always in need of towels and blankets for the animals. If you have extra ones that are only collecting dust, consider donating them to your animal shelter. Gently used pet toys, beds, leashes, and collars are typically helpful as well.

Transport animals. Some animal shelters don’t have an in-house veterinarian and so trips to the vet clinic are needed for their animals. Sometimes a pet needs to be transported to it’s foster home or it’s new permanent home. There are also animal shelters in cities where the main mode of transportation is bus or train, so transport is helpful in those situations. Whatever the case may be, if you are free once in awhile to transport pets, your help will be much appreciated.

Check their wish list. Most animal shelters have a list of supplies that they need on a daily basis. Supplies like food, treats, toys, cat litter, cleaning supplies, and other items are needed daily. Check with your area shelter to see if there is something you can purchase for them that would help them out.

Ask for donations in lieu of presents. If, like me, you’ve reached the age where you really don’t need more “stuff” for your birthday, ask family and friends to donate to your favorite charity instead of buying gifts.

Foster a pet. If you have time and space in your home to temporarily foster a shelter animal, it can be a big help to an animal shelter, especially in the summer months. Some animals need fostering due to illness or injuries, while others are simply too young to get adopted and need some time in a home before they can return to the shelter. This time of year, foster parents are especially needed for mom cats and their kittens. Longing for the days of your newborn baby? Foster baby kitties who need to be bottle-fed every few hours and it will take you right back! To read more about becoming a foster parent for kittens at Animal Shelter Assistance Program in Santa Barbara, visit

Use social media. Websites like Twitter and Facebook are great for sharing tweets or making posts about animals that need homes or even getting the word out about lost pets that need to find their owners.

Be a handyman. Every animal shelter that I have worked or volunteered with over the last 20 years has always been in need of a handyman for repairs. If you are a handyman and have a few extra hours to donate, contact your local animal shelter. I’m sure they can use your help!

Sew. If you have a passion for sewing and a little extra time on your hands, consider sewing pet beds for animal shelters. At a cat shelter I used to work for, there was a woman who would bring in quilted cat beds for the shelter cats that were just the right size for their cages. They were perfect and everyone–especially the cats–loved them!

Donate funds. Animal shelters can always use money. Typical impound fees for stray pets are $10 a day. This is at least the cost of what it takes to care for the homeless animals at shelters every day. This cost doesn’t include any medical evaluations, vaccinations, spaying, or neutering, etc.

Whatever way you choose to help your area animal shelter, just know that whatever you can give will make a difference. Years ago, I was working at an animal shelter on Christmas Day and woman came to the door to donate one can of cat treats. She apologized that it was all she could give, and wasn’t sure if it would make a difference. But to those 50 cats that got a treat on Christmas Day, it definitely made a difference.


Free Dog Behavior Workshop–Seasoned dog parents and beginners who want a happy dog are invited to attend a free dog workshop in Santa Barbara that goes beyond basic obedience and teaches valuable canine parenting skills. Presentation, discussion, and interactive sessions will be used to show attendees “how dogs learn.” Common questions will be answered through attendee case studies. Workshop instructor is Joan Hunter Mayer, The Inquisitive Canine. Space is limited. Register online to save your space. The workshop is for humans only and takes place Saturday, March 29, 2-4 p.m., Antioch University, 602 Anacapa.

You can say thanks for the workshop by making a tax-deductible donation to C.A.R.E.4Paws at

Adoptable Pet of the Week


Blu, a grey short-haired senior citizen of 10 years, was very shy when he first arrived at ASAP. But he has blossomed into one of the friendliest cats at the shelter and is the ambassador who greets people. This outgoing feline never hesitates to jump into an open cage to visit other cats. With a distinctive flattened ear and a unique meow, you’ll not forget him. Blu is looking for a permanent home where he can enjoy the friendship of other cats.

To meet Blu, and other cats needing loving homes, visit ASAP at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Road. Hours are: weekdays 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call the ASAP office at 683-3368 or visit


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