How To Help Dog Shelters When You Can’t Adopt

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
You don’t have to have a dog in order to help them – here’s what you can do for your local dog shelter

You can be an animal lover even if you don’t own one. There may be reasons why you can’t bring a dog into your home. You may live somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs. Or perhaps your busy schedule isn’t flexible enough to give you the time to spend with a dog. There are also health, financial or personal reasons that make it impossible to open your home to a pup. But even though you can’t adopt a dog right now, it doesn’t mean you can’t help out shelter dogs. Not only will it help fill the dog hole in your heart, you’ll also feel great knowing that you’re helping pooches in need. Here’s how you can help dog shelters when you can’t adopt.

  1. Organize a fundraiser: From a bake, craft sale or yard sale, to a charity barbeque or pet supply donation drop off, there are many creative things you can to fundraise for a dog shelter. You can sell tickets in your office for a donated prize or sell cookies to friends, family and neighbors. Every little bit helps. Be sure to promote your fundraiser responsibly and include all the information about the shelter and how much of the funds will be donated. After the event is finished, be sure to tell everyone how much was raised, along with a big thank you to everyone who donated.
  2. Volunteer at a dog shelter: Go down to your local dog shelter and volunteer your time or services. You can help clean, take dogs for walks or take care of the seemingly endless office administration tasks. There’s always something that needs to be done. If you’ve got mad computer skills, you can help with their social media campaigns or redesign and maintain the official website. Many of the shelters don’t have a budget for PR, so get out there and help promote their cause. If you enjoyed taking on your own fundraising project, why not help with their official event? Sponsors, donations, entertainment, silent auctions – these things don’t take care of themselves! These shelters need your skills and are happy with any help you can offer them.
  3. Driving dogs to the vet or foster homes: If you have a car, dog shelters need your wheels (and you behind the wheel). Smaller shelters usually don’t have a veterinarian to come in to the facility. Dogs need to get to the vet for checkups, shots and medications, but they don’t have a way to get there. Offer your delivery services to drive these shelter dogs to their vet appointments. As well, other organizations that use foster care to shelter dogs need volunteers to drive pups to their new foster homes. It may not seem like a lot, but these road trips take manpower and time the shelters don’t have. Plus, you can brag that you have your very own dog delivery service!
  4. Donate new or used items: Shelters are in need of food, treats, toys and towels. Drop by a pet store and pick up some food and treats (or better yet, make your own to donate – that’s what I do). Shelters always need a healthy supply of toys and you don’t have to spend a lot on them. Tennis balls are always a hit with dogs and are inexpensive. Drop off gently used blankets and towels – these are often the most used items in shelters due to the frequent use. And don’t forget about poop bags – shelters always need a steady supply of bags to clean up after bathroom breaks.

Before you get started, do a little research and see what kind of dog shelters are in your community. There are many small non-profits that aren’t on the mainstream radar because they don’t have enough people or funds to promote themselves. While the bigger organizations and shelters support great causes, the smaller ones may be in more need of your help. Give them a call or send an email – they’ll be ecstatic that you’re willing to offer a helping hand.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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