Yesterday there was a really cool blog hop going around called “Blog the Change.” It was asking bloggers to write about what they do and what the people they know do to improve the lives of cats, dogs, and other pets. Today we would like to share with you a 8  simple ways that anyone can help to give pets a better life.

1. Think adoption first.

Helping Cats and Dogs Robin and Manna Who Rescued WhoIf you are planning to bring a new cat or dog into your life, check out the local animal rescues, humane societies, or ASPCA shelters. There are so many great homeless pets out there than need a home. Why breed more when there are so many that need a home?

  • Want a young puppy or kitten? They’ve got that.
  • Want a pure bred dog or cat? They get those too.
  • Worried that they won’t be healthy?Rescues make sure that all of their animals get their regular shots and vet visits. They can provide you with records for each animal.
  • Worried that they won’t be socialized? Rescue pets are often “fostered” in a caregiver’s home with the caregiver’s family and other pets. If you have questions about the cat or dog’s temperament, the person who fostered the cat or dog will be able to answer them for you.

Some shelters have more than cats and dogs available for adoption. Ask and ye shall receive! 🙂

2. Educate yourself and the people you know.

Learn everything you can about your pets or the pets that you are considering bringing into your house.  Education could help a lot of pets from being abandoned or relinquished to animal rescues. Use books, blogs, veterinarians, and people who have owned this type of pet for a while to answer questions like the following:

  • Helping Cats and Dogs Inquisitive Manna & CincoWhat is a healthy diet for this type of pet? Trusting that any pet food on the shelf at the store is healthy is a risky move. Not all foods are created equal.
  • What kinds of exercise should this pet be engaging in?
  • Does this breed of animal have any genetic health problems you should be aware of?
  • Is this an indoor pet or an outdoor pet? What kinds of signs would tell you that this pet is sick or something is wrong? What do you do if something is wrong?
  • How does this type of pet react to children,  having guests over, traveling, being alone all day, etc?
  • What kinds of laws exist in your area regarding these types of pets?Are there rules in the community you live in regarding these pets? Some places will not allow certain breeds of dog, put a limit on the amount of pets that can belong to one household, or if you are renting you may be charged per pet.
  • Is anyone in your home allergic to this type of pet?

3. Volunteer to help at a local animal rescue.

There is nothing wrong with getting your hands a little dirty. Animal rescues (including the Humane Society and ASPCA shelters) are always in need of good help.  You could help give the animals some exercise or socializing, clean cages, give baths, feed and water the animals, change litter boxes, shop for supplies, help with paperwork, help handle the crowd at adoption events, help organize adoption events and fundraisers, etc.  There is always a job that needs to be done.

4. Donate to your local animal rescue.

Donations can come in many ways. Money is always the best. If you are in the USA and the animal rescue is an official non-profit, the money donation will be a tax write off at the end of the year. Supplies are always welcome too.  Call or e-mail your local rescue to see what their needs are before you donate. Some rescues have a list right on their website.  Even a small donation of food, litter, toys, treats, or other supplies will go a long way.  Do you have something around your house that your dog or cat isn’t going to use (item should be mint condition)? Donate it. Do you ever see sales where a needed supply is half off or deeply discounted? Grab as many as you can to donate. Use the BOGO sales to purchase one for your own pets and one to donate to the rescue. Don’t be afraid to give your coupons to the rescue either. 

5. Tend to the feral cat community. 

Helping Cats and Dogs simple_cat_shelter_270x224

A feral cat shelter
Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States.

You’ve seen the neighborhood cats around. This place is their home too.  Some of them can be caught and adopted out, while others are just too unsocialized to live in someone’s home. Those that are unsocialized are best off living in the streets as our neighbors. Talk to your local animal rescue and see if they participate in a Trap-Neuter-Return program and find out how you can assist them with any feral communities near you.
The ferals are especially in need of your help during the cold winters. It can be really difficult for them to find food when everything is snow covered. It can also be really difficult for them to stay warm in the bitter cold. You can help by building small shelters (often from plastic storage containers or styrofoam coolers) for the ferals to find shelter in. Designs for these shelters are all over the internet. Leaving cat food and fresh water in dishes outside can help a lot too.

6. Take a stand against animal abuse.

There are some really demented people out there who do horrible things to animals. You’ve heard about it on the news.  Don’t let it happen in your neighborhood. If you know that someone is abusing an animal, report them to the authorities and stay on them until something is done about it.  It will take some real bravery and persistence, but you can do it.  If one authority won’t listen to you, take it to someone else who will.  It can take a few tries to find the right person to help you.  Unfortunately, animal abuse laws are not usually as strict and easy to enforce as they should be.

Make sure to report neglect too. Neglect and abuse are two sides of the same coin. It takes real heartlessness to let an animal who relies on you suffer. Take action to save the pet while you can.

7. Reach out to hoarders.

Helping Cats and Dogs Animal Hoarder

Photo courtesy of Confessions of an Animal Hoarder

Playful Kitty did a 2-part series on hoarders a little while back (part 1, part 2). Hoarders suffer from a mental illness all their own. It can be really hard to get them the help that they need, but it is necessary both for the animals and for them.  You probably will end up having to call a local authority on them to remove the animals before it’s too late. However, the studies show that without help, the hoarder has a 90% chance of beginning to hoard all over again.  If you can be there for them and help them through the very difficult loss of their animals, you improve their chance of not repeating their offenses.  Most of the time these people are nice people who did not intend to do any harm to anyone.

8. Don’t shop at pet stores that sell cats or dogs.

Helping Cats and Dogs Boycott Pollywood Pets Puppy Mills Pet stores that sell puppies and kittens tend to support puppy mills (and the kitten equivalent).  For those that may not know, a puppy mill is a business that breeds dogs using very unethical practices. All they care about is money – they don’t care what happens to the dogs at all. Dogs are continuously bred, crowded into unsanitary cages, and never socialized. Most of the dogs being bred are never out of their cage.  Puppy mills are lifelong torture for the dogs that are bred there. As for the puppies, many are inbred which leads to some interesting health problems. Of course, those who purchase the inbred puppies are never informed that they are inbred.

You can help put puppy mills (and kitty mills) out of business by not purchasing those puppies (and kitties). Let your local pet stores know that you will not be shopping there if they continue to sell cats and dogs.  If you want to see how one group is handling a puppy mill pet store, check out the Pollywood Pets Boycot protest page on facebook.

There are probably tons of ways to help that haven’t been listed here.

If you have any to add, leave them in your comment below.

Helping Cats and Dogs Cinco silly

Cinco, one very silly adopted cat 🙂