You Can Make a Difference

Always wanted to help out at an animal shelter, but thought it would be too emotional? Here are 23 ways to help animals without breaking your heart.

By Maryjean Ballner | Posted: Tue Mar 1 00:00:00 PST 2005

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Cat socializing volunteer. Tender loving caresses keep kitties comfortable. Socializing soothes cats, helping them become more adoptable.

Fostering. Fostering provides temporary homes for kittens or cats. As with socializing, you can enjoy feline friendship without long-term commitment.

Medical help. Participate in spay-neuter clinics, perform medical tests or administer medications.

Public interaction. Assist adoption counselors, help people looking for lost animals, answer phones.

Behavior hotline. Specially trained volunteers return hotline calls. This can alleviate problems and prevent owners from relinquishing their pets. For more advanced problems, the caller can be referred to a local behaviorist.

Humane education. Visit schools to teach youngsters about proper animal care. "Education is the key," Probst says. "Informed children are better equipped to become responsible pet-owning adults. Educate children about their eventual social responsibility to volunteer as adults."

Maintain shelter bulletin board or scrapbook. This demonstrates positive feedback from happy adopters.

Shelter newsletter. Share positive shelter activity. There may be an open position for an editor, writer, photographer or proofreader.

Telephones. Make follow-up calls to customer surveys or after adoptions to ensure a successful match.

Writing. A writer who can offer professional services is a gift. Writing grant proposals can be arduous. Smaller groups may not have the resources and expertise to stick through the process, yet grant money represents considerable financial relief. Even sending simple thank-you letters for donations can be a big help.

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