The first full week in November is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week! Did you know that approximately 6.5 million homeless animals end up in a U.S. shelter every year? That number is simply staggering. There are about 3,500 animal shelters in the United States that take care of these animals.

National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week

Started by the Humane Society of the United States, National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week raises awareness about shelters and the people who work in shelters and care for homeless animals until they are adopted. These people work hard to make sure that shelter animals stay safe and healthy. They rescue pets and provide rehabilitation for animals.

Shelters and rescue organizations play an important role in the lives of stray and abandoned animals. For many animals, a shelter is a place of hope that represents new beginnings and second chances.

So at this point, you may be asking yourself, “What can I do to help my local animal shelter?” Great question! Here are some ideas for you:

  1. Show your appreciation. Many shelter workers put in long hours to ensure the health and well-being of animals. This is important (and often forgotten!) work. Need ideas of how to show your appreciation? A simple “thank you” can go a long way. You can also consider writing an email or letter to express your gratitude for the work they do. Or you could stop by and drop off some home-baked goodies!
  2. Volunteer. While you’re dropping off the goodies, why not stay awhile? Animal shelters can always use more volunteers! Maybe you could volunteer to play with the animals and love on them for an hour or two. Perhaps the dogs need to be walked or the towels need to be washed. Simply ask what needs to be done, and I’m sure you’ll be kept busy.
  3. Donate. Another way to show your appreciation is through donations. Shelters are always in need of something—just ask! Maybe your shelter is in need of equipment, towels, toys, blankets, or cleaning supplies. Always check with your shelter beforehand to see what they need. They might have a wish list of needed items online, or you can call and ask. Giving cash is always a great option too. This allows the shelter to buy what they need when they need it.
  4. Foster. Many animal shelters and rescues fill up quickly. They are often looking for people who will foster animals on a temporary basis. If you’re able to foster an animal or two, please consider it! You won’t just be providing a loving place for a homeless dog or cat; you’ll also be making more room at the shelter for new animals.
  5. Adopt. If you’re thinking about adding a furry friend to your family, consider adopting a pet from a shelter. Animals in shelters are just waiting to be loved and be part of a family. You can give an animal a second chance through adoption.
  6. Be responsible. You can also help out shelters by simply being a responsible pet owner. Spaying or neutering your pet helps keep the animal population down and reduces the number of homeless pets. Making sure your pet is always wearing ID tags help ensure you’re reunited with your pet and helps keep shelters from overpopulation.
  7. Remember your shelter all year round, not just during National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week. Give donations, play with the animals, and do what you can to change the lives of animals!

We hope these ideas give you inspiration to go out and help your local shelter or rescue. So what are you waiting for? Go out and make a difference!