9 Easy Ways to Help Animals in Need
Adopt a Pet
Adopt a pet—and consider making your new family member a special-needs animal. Fourteen years ago, Gwen Cooper had just broken up with her fiancé and was crashing with her two cats in a friend's spare bedroom when her vet called to tell her about a three-week-old blind kitten no one wanted. "I wasn't really in a place in my life to take in another cat, but I knew that disabled pets are the last ones to be adopted and the first to be euthanized at shelters," says Gwen, 39, who adopted the adorable kitten and named him Homer.
She chronicled his life—he once chased a robber out of her apartment!—in her best-selling book Homer's Odyssey. "I wanted to inspire people to open their homes to special-needs pets, who are just as amazing as 'normal' pets if people give them a chance," says Gwen, who donated 10 percent of her book proceeds to help abused and disabled animals. Find a special-needs pet in your area by searching petfinder.com's directory of more than 13,000 shelters.
Donate Pet Food
Donate pet food to Petco's Food Bank Collection Program, which helps owners who have fallen on hard times. Find participating locations at petco.com/petcofoundation.
Supply Shelters With Beds
Supply shelters with cozy bedding for animals. Pets often sleep on the cold concrete or in cramped cages as they await adoption. Purchase a bed for as little as $35 from kuranda.com/donate, and the site will ship it to a shelter of your choice.
Trivia for Kibble
Answer the daily trivia question at freekibble.com and the pet food company Halo, Purely for Pets will donate 10 pieces of free kibble to one of more than 50 shelters nationwide. Since the site launched in 2008, the nonprofit has fed over 5.6 million meals to dogs and cats.
Like to Donate
Like Petango.com at facebook.com/petango and the site will donate $1 to an animal shelter.
Email an Adopt-a-Gram
Email a free "adopt-a-gram" to animal-loving pals; it's a low pressure way to remind them that they can find great pets at their local shelter. Go to the adorable website theshelterpetproject.org and click on the Boston Terrier (you'll get it when you see it!) to send one.
Visit to Give
Visit theanimalrescuesite.com. Every time you click the "Click Here to Give—It's Free!" button, the site's sponsors will donate money to animal charities nationwide. To date, they've donated enough cash to pay for more than 404 million bowls of pet food.
Volunteer For Animals
Volunteer at a shelter in your neighborhood. To find one close by, enter your zip code at aspca.org/adoption/shelters. "As a cat volunteer at the ASPCA, I spend my time playing with new cats when they enter the shelter and help adopters find the perfect match for their family," says Dennice Brown of New York City. "There's no greater reward than knowing I've found a home for a homeless animal who desperately needs it."
Tweet Animal News
Tweet and spread the word about shelter pets that need loving homes. Log on to adoptapet.com/twitteracritter, pick an animal you want to help, then post a message for all your Twitter followers to see. You never know who you could motivate to adopt!