Everyone loves animals. After all, dogs are “man’s best friend.” It would be hard to find any neighborhood in America that didn’t have at least one pet. But, even though so many people love pets, there are still millions of animals in the US, and in Colorado, that need our help.
Thinking about animals in need can get you down. Hearing stories like that of Cooper, a dog blinded by his owner and rescued by the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR) just this year, is depressing. But luckily for all of us, and our pets, there are ways that we can help pets get the love and care they need.
Helping pets can mean a lot of things, and some of them may not be what you think. But no matter what your resources or availability, anyone can help pets in need in Colorado. There are so many ways to do this, but you might want to start off with this list, and see if it gives you any ideas.
1. Taking care of your pets
Obviously, the best way for you to help pets is to take care of your own! Having a pet is like having a child, and they need the same love and nourishment that children do. Spend time with your pets, and make sure you do research and ask others so you know the best way to care for them.
Provide your pets with nutritious food and plenty of water. Make sure that they get plenty of stimulation, in the form of playtime, toys, a backyard, walks, and more. And of course, listen to your pets. They’ll tell you if they need something, like barking and leading you to an empty water bowl.
Sadly, even with the best of care, pets sometimes fall ill or get injured. When this happens, take your pet to a good pet hospital right away. Get them the care that they need so they can continue to live with you happily.
2. Know that it’s a commitment
When buying or adopting a pet, know that you are making a lifelong commitment. Adoption should not be temporary. Make sure that you are ready to take care of and love a pet before you make the decision to bring it into your home. This is one of the best ways to help pets because it ensures that your pet is coming into a home where they will be loved and cared for.
This is true for any pet, from dogs and cats to lizards and guinea pigs. Every animal needs love and care, and you should be prepared to give them everything they need. You also might have to make changes to your life, such as cleaning up more or finding pet disinfectant that won’t harm your pets, and you should be willing and ready to make those changes.
Once you are prepared for this commitment, then you can help pets in need by adopting one (or more) of them. Your pet will be much happier being in a home where it is loved and cared for properly, and you will have a new family member to spend time with.
3. Don’t send them away
One of the best ways you can help pets is to avoid sending them to shelters. That’s not saying shelters are bad— many of them are quite good, and provide wonderful services. But a pet will be happier, and possibly have a longer lifetime, in a home where they are cared for individually, rather than in a shelter that has a lot of animals to take care of.
Annually, 6.5 million pets are given to shelters in the US. While some of them are coming from bad homes, not all of them are, and that leaves millions of animals who are leaving happy lives to live in a place where they won’t get all of the attention they need.
The most common reason by far that pets get sent to shelters is behavioral problems. After all, aggressive animals can cause dangers. But sending them away might not help them or fix their problems.
Instead, if your pet has behavioral problems, get them help. There are plenty of organizations that help pets with all kinds of behavioral problems. You can also hire trainers, send them to a day school, or even enter into pet programs designed to treat behavioral problems. This will keep your pet in a happy home, and help them behave better.
Sometimes, aggressive pets can still cause issues while you are getting them help. When this happens, don’t be afraid to reach out to people you know, or related animal groups, to help you out. You can easily find a bail agent, dog bite attorney, or animal attack injury attorney that can help you deal with any troubles, without harming your pet.
You can also choose to donate to certain attorneys that devote their time to protecting animals. It’s easy to find an animal attack injury attorney, but it’s harder to find one that prioritizes the health and safety of the animals.
Since animals don’t have the logic or reasoning that humans do, it’s worth finding a dog bite attorney that will assess the case from every angle.
So only send your pet to a shelter if it is absolutely necessary. As much as you can, try to get your pet the help they need without sending them away. This will keep them in a happy home, ensure that you don’t lose them, and allow shelters to allocate resources towards pets who really need it.
And if you do have to send your pet to a shelter, make sure it is a no-kill shelter. No-kill shelters only euthanize animals who have serious illnesses and no hope of recovery. They make sure that pets live as long as they can, even if it means expensive medical treatment. If you really want to help pets but have to send yours away, make sure it goes to a good no-kill shelter.
4. Adopt older
Pets have many similarities to children, and one of those is that older pets have a much harder time getting adopted. Many people or families like the allure of a bright young puppy or kitten on Christmas, and look over the older adoptees. But you can help pets in need by choosing to adopt an older pet.
Many shelters, especially no-kill shelters, have difficulty finding homes for older pets. The Wild Blue Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Colorado is dedicated to helping cats, and they often struggle to find homes for older cats.
Luckily, at the end of last year, they teamed up with No Kill Colorado to help combat this problem. For every older cat— two years or older— that was adopted, No Kill Colorado would donate 50 dollars to Wild Blue, meaning that there were no adoption fees.
Programs like this work great, and indeed Wild Blue had already adopted out 14 older cats by mid-December. But they only work because people decide to adopt the pets available. So if you’re looking to adopt, consider getting an older pet. You can give a pet in need a good home, and you still get a loveable new companion.
5. Donate for the animals
Of course, if you don’t want to go the route of adoption and ownership, there are still ways you can help pets in need. The best way to do this is to donate to shelters, especially no-kill shelters, that help animals.
Monetary donations help shelters do all sorts of things. They provide funds for food, water, and other things that pets need to survive. It also helps to supply equipment like leashes, cages, food bowls, and anything else a shelter needs to take care of pets.
Donations also help shelters provide medical care and grooming for animals who need it. They can purchase medicine, pay doctors and vets, buy baths and grooming supplies, pay for surgeries, and do anything else they might have to do to keep an animal healthy.
Much like shelters, you can also donate to food banks like the Colorado Pet Pantry. These organizations use donations to buy food for pets in need, whether that be families that can’t afford pet food or shelters that need it. For some shelters, one dollar donated can be worth up to five dollars in pet food, so even a small donation really helps.
But animal shelters don’t just use funds to get necessary care materials. These donations can also be used to repair and improve the shelter itself, so that the animals can live in a good environment. For example, a shelter may need to deal with window repair to get rid of a draft for the comfort of the animals. Colorado gets cold in the winter, so a simple fix like this is essential. Even though a fix like this is easy, however, that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. These donations can make the difference between a cold and comfortable environment.
Fixing clogged drains is something very common when working with a lot of fur. In order to keep their plumbing running, your local shelter probably has the direct line to the local plumber on speed dial. And they need the basic money to pay for electricity and water for the building.
Shelters also need to provide good outdoor spaces for pets. They might need a chain link fence or even custom fencing to keep animals safe from predators when outside. Custom fencing can also be used to keep large dogs away from small dogs. Perhaps they want to buy outdoor toys that pets can play with, or give them places of shade for the hot months.
And shelters need to pay for the needs of their workers, too. Providing a good work space with things like comfortable chairs and hand-washing stations are important. And they need general building maintenance, like a garage door install or repainting.
Many shelters have been hit especially hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The risk of transmission and social distancing makes it harder to do adoptions, and many people may be afraid to do so. And widespread economic hardship means that shelters aren’t getting as many donations, so they struggle to keep things running.
So a great way for you to help pets and other animals in Colorado is to donate to shelters. These places provide necessary services to animals in need, and put a lot of hard work into it. Any size donation can help, so if you are able to give, it will go towards keeping animals happy and healthy.
6. Donating your time
Most shelters couldn’t exist without the work of volunteers. So if you can’t or don’t want to donate money, you can still help animals by donating your time.
Shelters need volunteers for all sorts of jobs, and they often provide training. So you don’t need to be a vet or even know much about caring for animals to help, because there is almost certainly something you could do.
Some volunteers might just help with paperwork. They can file patient intakes, help keep records straight, and do other small activities. Volunteers can also work on phones, directing people towards the right help, making appointments, and giving advice.
Shelters might also need volunteers to help with outreach. The people that you see standing on medians raising funds for animal shelters? Those are often volunteers.
Outreach volunteers don’t have to know much about animals, as long as they are good at talking to other people. You can put up flyers, spin signs, make phone calls, or do anything else to get more people to help these shelters.
And of course, shelters need volunteers to care for the animals. This can mean taking care of feeding and watching them, or grooming them, or simply just playing with them. And some volunteers can even assist with veterinary care with the right training.
So whatever your skill set, there is a way that you could help at a local shelter. Consider donating some of your time to help pets have better lives and ensure that they get cared for the way they need.
So many ways to help
There are a lot of ways for you to help pets and animals in need. You can take care of the pets you have, be prepared for the commitment that comes with pet ownership, and avoid sending your pets to shelters. You can adopt older pets who have less of a chance to be adopted. And you can always donate your time or money to help shelters do the important work that they do.
Animals and pets are an important part of our lives, and we should treat them as such. Whatever your availability or means, there are many ways that you can help pets in Colorado, and both you and the animals will feel happier if you help in any way you can.