I am SO excited to share today’s guest post from Kristine Lacoste at Pets Adviser! She wrote to tell me how she was inspired by our talk of shelter drive-bys to do one herself, and it was a huge hit. Thank you Kristine for sharing this with us- and make sure you see what Pets Adviser is offering for others who do the same!
An article I read recently had an idea that kept coming to mind, and I wouldn’t be satisfied until I implemented it.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang (“Dr. V”) of Pawcurious listed ways people could help be kind to animals for the designated week (the first week of May every year), and her “shelter drive-by” idea really inspired me.
Here’s what she does: She pops into her local shelter on her way to run errands or appointments and asks what they are low on or need. While she’s out, she picks up a few things and drops them off on her way back. Now, this I could do.
My First Drive-By
I knew I was going to be out and about on Saturday near my local shelter, so I called them to confirm their hours and asked what they needed. I jotted down the items and told them I would be there on Saturday to do a shelter drive-by.
“A shelter what?” they asked in confusion. I explained the idea, and they were thrilled. I’m sure it’s not a new concept — but with any luck, giving it a catchy name and describing how easy it is will get more people doing the same.
I ended up at the store for something else one night this week. While digging around for my debit card, I found the list of items. I was already at the store, so I grabbed a basket and filled it up with most of the items on the list. They didn’t have the milk replacement formula, so I stopped at a pet store. And toys. Um, lots of toys. I know, it wasn’t on the list, but who can resist those Frisbees, jingle balls, furry plushies and squeaker toys? How I love the squeaker toys. Once you know the toy squeaks, you have to squeeze it. Repeatedly. I dare you to try and resist the squeak.
Saturday arrived, and I think I may have skipped or bounced to the car. I was excited and looking forward to going to the shelter.
After my errands, I headed over with my goodies and some staff treats (people need treats too!), which included a large fruit tray — a welcome sight in the already hot day, I was told. They were excited and helped me bring in all the items. One staffer saw the milk replacement formula and was pleased to have more in stock with a batch of kittens on the premises.
I had no explanation for the small sea of toys, so I just squeezed the squeaker toy again and laughed. I really wanted to take that toy home with me.
My camera was on hand to take pictures of my successful mission, and the staff was gracious enough to hand me the keys to wander around and take more photographs. I visited the dogs, puppies and the cat cottage — a climate-controlled building specifically for the cats. This was a bad idea. I wanted to take every cute and furry face home with me. After a few pictures, I peeled myself away and thanked them before heading back home.
We’ve talked before about the high people feel when volunteering, and I was soaking it all up. Seeing all those happy faces and animals can’t help but make you smile, and knowing you are helping each and every one of them is something to cherish.
Why This Idea Rocks
A shelter drive-by isn’t time-consuming, and you’re already headed out to go somewhere. This is a convenient alternative for people who don’t have time to volunteer, and you can save more time by calling ahead for a list of items, as I did.
Let’s say you are already out and will only pass the shelter on your way home. That’s okay — there are tons of items you can pick up in various stores that shelters still need:
- Paper towels
- Dishwashing detergent
- Milk replacement for kittens and puppies
- Food (puppy/dog and kitten/cat)
- Pet beds
- Litter boxes and cat litter
Shelters may have different needs, but this list or anything you would give to your own pet is a good item to bring. Some shelters have smaller animals or an aviary, so ask if they need supplies for those animals. If you no longer have these types of animals but still have the supplies, ask if the shelter is interested in them or knows of anyone who might need them.
You Don’t Have to Spend Money
Older household items could be given to the shelter instead of being thrown away. Towels, for example — everyone has to bathe, so eventually those towels must be replaced. If they’re in decent shape, give them a wash and drop them off at the shelter.
Your pet may no longer play with certain toys or outgrow a harnesses, bed or carrier. All these items will be welcomed at the shelter. Please clean them first and make sure nothing personal is on or inside them.
It’s not just about items. Anything might be of value to the shelter. Do you quilt, or make custom jewelry or some sort of craft that has nothing to do with pets? Ask the shelter if you can donate extras that they can sell in their lobby. Call first for anything not pet related just in case they can’t make it work. If you are unable to travel or leave your home, ask someone to drop it off for you.
Don’t Forget the Tax Deduction
Most shelters are nonprofit, which means that anything you donate you can write off on your taxes. It’s a win/win for the shelter and for you. Just don’t forget to grab a receipt before you leave. Shelters also hold drawings and fundraisers from time to time, and anything you spend can be deducted.
If you don’t do this already, make a folder or envelope labeled for 2012 receipts or donations, and keep your documents inside the folder for easy retrieval at tax time. With any luck, you’ll have so many you’ll need a box!
Make It a Family Affair
Get the kids involved in your shelter mission. Explain to them why you are dropping items off or collecting household things to bring to the shelter.
Taking them with you is an even better idea. You’ll feel good about helping the shelter and will set a good example for your children that shows how important it is to help others and animals in need. There are many ways to get kids involved, and it is something they can continue when they grow up.
Kitten season is upon us, and that will soon lead into June — a cat-adoption frenzy month to find the kittens and mothers happy homes. Kitten supplies and food (especially milk replacement formula, since not all kittens enter the shelter with mothers) will be greatly appreciated during this time. Any other item is sure to be used. And if none of these ideas appeal to you, a cash donation is always appreciated.
Good luck on your shelter drive-by, and let me and Dr. V know how it goes!
Photos: Kristine Lacoste/Pets Adviser
Kristine Lacoste, managing editor of the Pets Adviser community, is happy to announce a special contest. Anyone who signs up for Pets Adviser’s email newsletter between now and June 30 will be automatically entered in a raffle to win $100 in their name to the animal shelter of their choice. You can even earn three bonus entries by emailing us a photo of yourself doing a “shelter drive-by.” Email the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will contact the winner by email.
Thank you for sharing your story 🙂 I love shopping for the local shelters. It makes me as happy as (I hope) it makes them!
What a great idea!! We’ve been talking about volunteering for a while…this might just be the way to get things started!!
As a canine rescue volunteer, this story made me smile 🙂 I am retired and able to volunteer 2 days a week. I also foster for another group. When people stop by to bring the dogs, food, toys, cleaning supplies, blankets and hay in the winter, small swimming pools in the summer, IT is such a welcome Treat ! The dogs always enjoy visiting with new people. Pass the word, there are SO many shelters in need !
David Deleon Baker says
Two days a week, that’s great. And you’re right — so many shelters can use all the help they can get!