6 Ways to Get Involved with your Local Animal Shelter or Rescue

6 Ways to Get Involved with your Local Animal Shelter or Rescue
Photo: Wagging Dog Rescue

This is one of my favorite signs. Every time I see it pop up on my social media feed, I share it. Why? Because it’s a simple photo that shows just how many ways you can get involved with your local animal shelter or rescue.

It can often seem overwhelming when you enter the animal rescue world – just knowing how many lovable, perfect angels there are waiting in a shelter or at a rescue and knowing how much you want to save them. However, checking off even one of the items listed here will allow you to do your part in helping animals find their furever home.

Below, I break down six simple ways you can get involved with your local shelter or rescue.

Adopt your next pet

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “if you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk.” While out promoting the importance of adoption, you’ve got to take your own advice – and adopt your next pet!

If you’re like me, this is an easy (and obvious) step. I’m waiting to rescue dog #2 until I have a more stable living situation (i.e. buying a house vs. renting an apartment), but everyone – my boyfriend, my family and my friends – knows I will be adopting my next furry friend.

If you’re lucky enough to be in a place where you’re ready to adopt (check out my recent post on what you should consider before adopting), head to your local rescue or shelter. Or, take a look on AdoptaPet.com and see who’s currently available in your area! 

Foster a pet

Want a furry friend in your life but aren’t able to commit to adopting right now? Consider fostering!

Fostering requires you to take a pet home and give it the love and care (sometimes medical care too) it needs – and deserves! – for a certain period of time, or until it’s adopted. Many rescues and shelters depend on fosters because:

  • They may not have enough physical room for all of the animals in their care. By opening your home to a pet, you’re also opening a spot at the shelter for them to save another. 
  • A pet may have certain medical needs that can’t be provided in a shelter or rescue environment (24/7 monitoring or post-surgery care, for example). They may be too young to be in a shelter as well. 
  • A pet is having issues in a shelter environment. This can vary but can include separation anxiety or general stress. Some pets can begin exhibiting behavioral or health issues in a shelter environment, which can hinder (or slow) their ability to be adopted. Fostering allows them to thrive in a home environment. 

There are many other benefits of fostering as well! Reach out to your local rescue or shelter to learn about their foster program.  

Sponsor a pet

Can’t commit to adopting or fostering at this time? You’ve still got options! Consider sponsoring an adoptable pet. Many rescues and shelters offer different levels of sponsorship. You may sponsor their adoption fee or help cover their medical fees and general care while in the shelter. Sponsorship is often tax-deductible (check with your rescue or shelter to be sure!) and you can even “gift” a sponsorship to a loved one. 

While you may not have the time to give or living situation to fully commit to adopting or fostering, sponsoring is a great way to help an animal find a loving home.  

Volunteer at your local rescue or shelter

One of my personal favorites! I may not have the time to commit to adopting or fostering, and am not financially able to sponsor. So, to ensure I’m doing what I can to promote #adoptdontshop, I volunteer!

I love the flexibility of volunteering. Rescues and shelters have many different needs, so volunteering positions can range from hands-on time with the pets to staffing events to developing marketing material – and more! You can also control how much time you volunteer each week, each month, each year etc.

I personally enjoy the hands-on positions where I can meet the adoptable dogs, take them outside in the morning, give them breakfast and play with them. I mean, who doesn’t love puppy play time? Previously, however, when my schedule was crazy (full-time student, full-time job), I volunteered by attending local events on behalf of a rescue.

So, don’t worry about not having all the time in the world to invest in volunteering. Just do what you can, and it’ll be greatly appreciated by all! 


If you’re financially able, consider donating to the shelter. This could go towards an animal’s medical care, supplies, maintenance etc. The smallest amount helps!

However, donations don’t have to just be financial. Check with your local shelter or rescue to see what products might be in need. This could range from:

  • Toys
  • Blankets/bedding
  • Pet food
  • Cleaning/office supplies
  • Newspapers
  • Collars/leashes

…and so much more! They often have a “wish list” you can easily pull from. 


This can be as simple as sharing, sharing, sharing! Talk to your friends about adoption, share adoptable pets on social media, write a blog about the importance of #adoptdontshop (hence The Doodle Diaries 🙂 ) 

Spreading the word and educating those around you is an easy way for you to help pets find their furever home and end the overpopulation of pets. 

What’s your favorite way to help out your local animal shelter or rescue?

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