Did you know that you can help animals no matter how old you are? Take Sydney and Alexandria, for example. They’re only 12, and they’ve been donating their time to helping animals for years! There are millions of dogs, cats, bunnies, and other animals in need of homes all over the U.S., and there are so many ways for you to help them.
Alexandria and Sydney love helping animals in need, like these puppies they helped foster!
Here are Sydney and Alexandria’s top 10 ways for kids like you to help animals in shelters:
1. Educate your friends and family.
Teach people how important it is to spay and neuter their dogs and cats. Around 70,000 puppies and kittens are born in the U.S. every day, and there are nowhere near enough good homes for all of them. Spaying and neutering can help end the homeless-animal crisis!
2. Ask for birthday donations.
For Sydney and Alexandria’s 10th birthday, they decided that there was nothing they wanted more than to make animals in need happy. They asked their friends and family to give them donations for their local animal shelter instead of birthday presents, and they raised enough money to buy warm beds for dogs so that they wouldn’t have to sleep on the cold concrete floor.
3. Raise money for animals.
Head over to a local business, like a grocery or hardware store, with your parents and ask if you can hold a bake sale in front of the building. Once you get the OK, hang signs up in your neighborhood a couple of weeks in advance letting people know when, where, and why you’ll be holding the bake sale. Be sure to make lots of yummy vegan treats and create signs showing the prices of the goodies.
Ask your parents to post about your bake sale on Facebook to make sure that lots of people will know about it! During the sale, make sure you have some cash with you to give people change and plenty of napkins and bags so customers can take their treats to go. And of course, be sure to put out a donation collection can. (Sydney and Alexandria have held many bake sales for animals, and they say that people often give a donation without even taking a treat!)
4. Volunteer at your local animal shelter.
You may need your parents’ help with this one, since some shelters require that volunteers be a certain age unless they‘re with a parent. If you find a shelter that will let you volunteer, you can walk dogs, clean up after the animals, refill water bowls, and give out toys and treats. Even just being there to pet cats and scratch dogs behind the ears will help them feel less lonely.
5. Adopt animals from shelters.
Instead of buying them from pet stores or breeders, be sure to always adopt animals from local shelters. Every year, more than 6 million animals are taken to shelters, and about half are euthanized because there aren’t enough good homes for them. If you have friends who are ready to take good care of a dog or cat (or any animal), urge them to adopt from a shelter instead of buying from a breeder or a pet store.
6. Set up a donation drive.
Ask your teacher or school principal if you can lead a donation drive at your school for an animal shelter. You and your parents can write a letter telling your school officials how you plan on doing it and why it’s important to collect items that animals in shelters need, like food, toys, leashes, beds, and blankets. You can ask your classmates and their friends and family to donate. And get a group of your own friends together to make colorful posters so you can spread the word about the donation drive!
7. Foster an animal.
Ask your parents to help you foster a homeless dog or cat. There are so many animals in need of a safe temporary place to hang out while they recover from an illness or injury, and some puppies and kittens need a quiet place to grow, away from the busy animal shelter. If you can commit your time and resources to fostering an animal, you’ll be helping two animals—the one you take into your home and another one who will get a place in the shelter.
FreeImages.com/ Aurelia Werneck
It can be hard to say goodbye to an animal you’ve been fostering once they’re adopted into a permanent home and no longer need you to take care of them. But the good news is that because of you, an animal got a second chance at life in a loving home, and that’s pretty awesome! Fostering an animal is a big commitment, so you’ll need to ask your parents to help while you’re at school. With their mom’s help, Sydney and Alexandria have fostered more than 25 animals. If they can do it, so can you!
8. Speak up.
When you see animals in trouble, try to help them. If you see a dog chained to a tree every day when you walk home from school, ask your parents to call your local animal control officers and tell them why you’re worried about the situation. If you ever see kids being mean to stray cats (or anyone hurting any animals) stand up for them if you can. If it’s not safe for you to get involved, then ask a parent or trusted teacher to help.
9. Be kind to animals of all ages.
FreeImages.com/ Annette Sparrow
Elderly dogs and cats may sleep most of the day and not want to play very much, but they need love and care, too. Sometimes, people are more interested in puppies and kittens because they’re more fun and playful, and older dogs and cats get ignored or neglected. Make it a point to give some extra attention to the older animals at your local shelter whenever you stop by!
10. Spread the word.
Ask your parents to post a photo or a video of a dog or cat who needs a home on their Instagram or Facebook pages. Many shelters have fliers you can download and hang in local coffee shops and other businesses. If not, just make your own! Along with pictures of the animals, include their age and gender, whether or not they get along with other animals and young kids, and any health problems they have. Also, don’t forget to put in the shelter’s contact information for anyone who is interested in adopting. All it takes is one kind person to see your flier and decide to adopt!