How to Help a Shelter, Even If You Can’t Adopt

Clear the Shelters
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Maybe you’ve already got two golden retrievers, or you’re allergic to cats or you’re not sure you’re ready for a new pet.

Your neighborhood animal shelter — and its assortment of dogs and cats — can still use your help.

Here are ways to help animals in need, even if you can’t adopt:

1. Volunteer. A shelter needs people to walk and bathe dogs, help with the feedings, serve as adoption counselors and do lots of other jobs necessary to keep the rescues going. At South Florida’s Humane Society of Broward County, for example, volunteers caring for the dogs and cats awaiting adoption do everything from scooping poop to assisting with the spaying and neutering, especially if they have a medical background, said Mary Steffen, the senior vice president of operations.

“They come here for their animal fix,” she said.

2. Foster. If you’ve got room for some temporary furry visitors, shelters want to hear from you. The Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco has about 80 dogs at a time, but room for only 30 at the shelter.

“We literary cannot save lives if we do not have foster homes,” said Sherri Franklin, the founder and executive director of the rescue organization, which takes dogs 7 years and older.

Franklin says the animals stay from six weeks to three months. Failed fosters — those who decide to keep their four-legged guests — are welcome too.

“That’s the only kind of failure we like,” she said.

3. Donate. Non-profit animal rescues rely on donations to operate. Check websites to find out how you can give to a particular shelter — whether directly, through neighborhood thrift stores, or with a percentage of your purchase while shopping online through programs such as AmazonSmile. Shelter officials say you should make sure your donation is going where you want it to — whether to a national organization or to a local one — and not assume the money will trickle down.

For shelters participating in this year’s Clear the Shelters initiative, you can donate directly to those individual organizations through Fund the Shelters. A list of shelters, sorted by state, is available here

Look for “wish lists” on websites, which cover everything from towels and wash cloths to food and nail clippers to larger, more expensive items. The Animal Rescue League of Boston, with shelters in Boston, Brewster and Dedham, publishes its lists through Amazon.com. Or if you have the needed items at home, you can drop those off at the shelters, said the marketing manager, Lisa Graham.

4. Socialize. Host benefits or help out at adoption days and other events. Shelter supporters organize happy hours, golf outings, dog walks and other gatherings to raise funds. Other volunteers design newsletters and websites, collect items for auctions and promote adoptions on social media.

“Social media is a big part of our rescue,” Franklin said. 

She recently posted a photo of a Pomeranian as part of a plea for help in transporting six dogs from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

“I posted it on Facebook and I got 75 responses within two hours of people wanting to help,” she said.

Help in attending — and throwing — fundraisers and benefits is also key. Famous Fido Rescue in Chicago, for example, held a fundraiser on Aug. 23, 2015 for a new headquarters, a 10,000-square-foot building. In addition to space for the animals, a counselor to help struggling owners keep their pets and a station to micro-chip animals, the new building was also set to include a rescue store, a pet-supply store that directed its profits back to the animals.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Clear The Shelters

Shelters near you


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive on Saturday, August 17, 2019, to help find loving homes for animals in need.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015.

Now is the time for shelters to register by completing the online application located here. Organizations interested in participating in Clear the Shelters must complete the Commitment Registration form to ensure proper verification of all interested participants.

When registering, please make sure you select the TAMPA-ST.PETERSBURG-SARASOTA, FL region. This will put your shelter on our CLEAR THE SHELTERS online map, driving families to your shelter. 

Here are the local shelters that are offering no-cost or reduced-fee adoptions for this event:

  1. Citrus County Animal Services - 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  2. Humane Society of Polk County - 3195 Dundee Road Winter, Haven
  3. Barking Out Loud Rescue, Inc - 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  4. Paw Warriors, Inc. - 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  5. SPCA Florida - 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  6. Friends of Strays Animal Shelter - 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  7. Pinellas County Animal Services - 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  8. SPCA of Hernando County - 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  9. Humane Society of Tampa Bay - 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  10. SPCA Tampa Bay - 9099 130th Ave North, Largo
  11. Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services - 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  12. St. Francis Animal Rescue - 1925 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice
  13. FLUFF Animal Rescue - 11220 Park Blvd N, Seminole
  14. Manatee County Animal Services: Palmetto Shelter - 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  15. Manatee County Cat Town - 216 6th Ave E, Bradenton
  16. Pasco County Animal Services - 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  17. St. Francis Society, Inc. - Pet Smart - 12835 Citrus Plaza Dr, Tampa
  18. The Humane Society of the Nature Coast - 7200 Mobley Road, Brooksville
  19. Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center - 440 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa
  20. Humane Society of Manatee County - 2515 14th Street W, Bradenton
  21. Save Our Strays Inc. Safety Harbor, FL - 3223 San Jose Street, Clearwater
  22. Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control Section - 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  23. Hernando County Animal Services - 19450 Oliver St., Brooksville
  24. Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, FL - 5718 21st Ave W, Bradenton
  25. Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  26. Rescue Cats of Florida, 211 West Alexander Street, Plant City
  27. Precious Paws Rescue, 5164 S. Florida Avenue (Route 41), Inverness
  28. Hands Helping Paws Rescue, 53 West Bay Boulevard South, Lake Wales
  29. Cat Kids Rescue, 10500 Ulmerton Road, Suite 308, Largo
  30. Suncoast Animal League, 1030 Pennsylvania Ave., Palm Harbor
  31. Cat Haven Rescue of Tampa-Pasco County, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Wesley Chapel
  32. Cat Haven Rescue of Pasco County, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  33. Suncoast Humane Society, 6781 San Casa Drive, Englewood
  34. Rebels Rescue, 11665 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa
  35. Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka city
  36. Cat Crusaders, Inc, 6248 Commerce Palms Drive, Tampa
  37. SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  38. Rescue Cats of Florida, 3313 Lithia Pinecrest Road, Valrico
  39. Countless Cats Rescue Inc., 3139 Duane Avenue, Oldsmar
  40. Cat Call Inc, Pet Smart 1051 W Brandon Blvd, Brandon
  41. Cat Call Inc, 11331 Causeway Blvd, Brandon

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