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‘Tis the Season! How to Help Animals at the Holidays

What a wonderful autumn it has been for traveling and enjoying the outdoors with our dogs! Sunny, bright comfortable days, just a little chill in the air in the morning and evening, fall colors emerging on the trees, the southern migration of birds and butterflies filling the skies, fall festival weekends, and more! A great time of year to enjoy walks thru town, in the woods, over hill and dale! And, as we enjoy all of this, we begin to think about the winter season’s approach, the many holidays to celebrate with family and friends, and the true joy of caring, sharing, and giving. Like us, our dogs are very lucky – we have each other. But neither everyone, nor every dog is quite so lucky!

As the holidays near, we all think of how we can help to bring some joy, comfort, peace, and pleasure to others. There are so many very worthy organizations that devote their efforts to helping others in need that it becomes difficult to choose while at the same time being impossible to give to all. Like me, I’m sure you want to help in some way, but also want to be sure your donations – be it money, supplies, time and work – truly make a difference, and support the work and ideals that you feel are important. So, since the holidays will be here before we know it, let’s do some valuable research and think about how we can best help and support our causes, whether it’s an organization helping dogs/animals, or people, or both. We need to know and understand an organization’s mission – what they do and what they stand for – to be sure our donations are helping in the ways we intend.

Donating locally and donating nationally are NOT the same. Local organizations usually have more direct hands on work with the animals, while national organizations usually work more for a cause – protective legislation, animal cruelty, animal rights, etc. Even your local ASPCA or Humane Society is not always directly connected to the national organization except in name, though they all work for animals in some way.

If you want to support your local shelter or animal organization, be sure you understand the local organization’s procedures to insure that you agree with what they do and how they do it. If you want to help locally, it’s also valuable to donate time and supplies. You can be a volunteer once or more a week to be a dog walker, you can spend several hours a week helping to feed the animals and/or clean cages, you can help by fostering an animal until a forever home is found, you can collect and deliver supplies that are needed by a local organization. Every November at our house, we put up our Animal Giving Tree on our porch. Neighbors, local business people, and visitors see our sign and will bring over used/clean blankets, quilts, towels, to line crates/cages; animal food, treats, and toys; collars, leashes, and coats; and many send a check. In our neighborhood schools, several of the teachers use the collection of items for the local animal care organizations as a classroom project. We collect and we deliver. It’s all very helpful and all appreciated. You speak with a local organization near you, and do the same for them. They even like old t-shirts and aprons so they don’t get bleach on their clothes when cleaning crates/cages or washing food dishes.

You can also help locally by sharing of yourself and your dog by getting advance permission to visit a neighbor who is alone, a local assisted living facility or nursing home.

If you want to donate on a state or national level, do some research to find organizations that work for the causes you feel are important. Sandra Miniutti, Vice President of Charity Navigator, an online organization that does watchdog work rating charities, including their financial health, accountability, and results, says when donating, “Be inspired by your heart to give, but take time to use your head to make an informed choice.”

So, as the holidays approach, consider caring, sharing, and giving of yourself in some way to an organization that works full time for the causes you believe in. Consider and research how you can help with – local donations to directly help animals; state and national organizations to promote legislation for animal protection and rights; organizations which help with disaster relief and animal cruelty enforcement; organizations which support special causes such as service dogs for vets/disabled, guide dogs, hospice dogs, Puppies Behind Bars, Paws and Stripes dogs trained to assist disabled veterans, and Educated Canines Assisting the Disabled (ECAD) which is an integral part of this month’s Good Read recommendation book.

Do your research – it’s easier than you think – and enjoy the warm wonderful feeling of knowing that your donation is truly helping! Happy Thanksgiving!

Some of the above information was taken from Until Tuesday (this month’s good read recommendation), from Best Friends Magazine, from Dog Friendly Magazine, and from The Art of Giving, by Lynn M. Hayner.

Good Read Recommendation of the Month: 

Until Tuesday by former Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan

A wounded warrior and the golden retriever who saved him. A book of honor, injury, loyalty, hurt, devotion, and love.