Rescue is probably the most important means of making a difference in the life of an abused, neglected or abandoned animal. Getting them off the streets or out of dangerous situations is essential. Getting them off death row in a 'kill' shelter and finding safe homes with a foster family or permanent family is the goal.
Most of us don't have the time, funds and space to set up a full rescue shelter to keep a number of homeless animals till they find homes. Some people do it on a small basis, taking in a certain number of animals that they can care for while searching for placements, then taking in others.
Many of us do it on a one at a time basis. Even if we have a pet already, we find a place in our homes and hearts for a stray or an animal that was rescued by others. Rob and I have eight PWDs, but we also have Morgan and Tsar in our family. They were neglected and abandoned pups that fit right into our home and became permanent members.
Rob and I have taken in dogs that were strays on the street, dogs that were neglected or abused by owners that didn't want them and dogs that were turned in to shelters.
The public shelters in many communities have adopted a 'no kill' policy over the past few years, keeping adoptable animals alive and using creative ways of finding permanent homes for them. They swap with other shelters to put an animal in an area where it may be more in demand and the use of foster homes has grown tremendously.
Although most of us can't run a shelter from our own home, we can help out local shelters in a number of way.
Most shelters are privately funded from gifts and donations. Money is always in short supply and they have to use their funds carefully. Food, medical care, and utilities are major expenses. Any time they can save precious dollars by using volunteer services, that means more money for the animals and more animals can be helped.
If you've been thinking about volunteering, but you don't know what you could do, there's a job for everyone at the shelter. They need people to answer phones and do paperwork, to meet and greet people and answer questions.
Shelters create lots of laundry. Blankets, towels and bedding must be washed daily. Even kids can fold towels and blankets.
Cages and pens need to be cleaned daily or perhaps more often. Animals also need exercise. Many shelters are happy to have someone who will walk the dogs and give them some exercise.
Our dog training club recently sponsored an event in cooperation with the local shelter called 'walk a hound, lose a pound'. The shelter brought a load of dogs to the park and our club members each walked one around the park. People with dog training experience can work with the dog on improving his manners and walking well on a leash. Those simple things can significantly improve the dog's chances of being adopted.
Feeding can be a fun activity to help with at the shelter. What animals don't enjoy seeing someone coming with a bowl of food in his hand?
A very important activity for the well being of the animal is playtime. It also works to socialize the animal and make it more adoptable.
Another volunteer opportunity is helping at adoption events. We've all seen the dogs and cats at stores and parks and various places. The animals are all cleaned up and sometimes wearing bandanas, all hoping that someone will see them and take them home.
There are many ways to help rescue organizations and they desperately need our help. With more animals than ever being turned in to shelters and many families having trouble making ends meet, the shelters are stretching their funds farther than ever.