“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” –Anatole France
It’s easy to feel empathy for other humans because often we can relate our own experiences to theirs. However, being socially responsible can also mean being compassionate towards non-human animals. Growing evidence suggests that feeling empathy towards animals can produce other positive behaviours such as caring for our environment.
Did you know that in the US alone 7.6 million pets are surrendered to shelters each year? These vulnerable animals need help. If you’d like to make a difference in another life, supporting your local shelter is a good place to start.
Here are four ways to help:
- Donate funds
Small local shelters often do not have access to the funding opportunities of larger organizations so consider “adopting” a local shelter. Donated funds can be used where they are needed most such as veterinary care and spaying/neutering. Your dollars can even qualify as a tax deduction if your local shelter has charitable status.
For a busy person, this is a fast, effective way to be of service.
2. Donate time
Time is another resource you have to share. Most shelters depend on volunteers to help care for the animals. Walking dogs, help with feeding, cleaning and playing with the animals takes time and volunteers often fill these roles. If you prefer, you don’t even have to work directly with the animals. Use your skills to help out in the office answering the phone, helping with email campaigns or managing a website.
3. Donate supplies
Common needs at your local shelter often include bedding and toys. And this option doesn’t need to be expensive. Used sofa cushions make great dog beds. Tug ropes can be made from old t-shirts, etc.
Cleaning supplies are always needed. Check with your local shelter to see what they need but the usual items are paper towels, newspapers and soaps are always needed.
And don’t forget food. Shelters have a lot of hungry mouths to feed. Consider donating food or treats your own pet has become allergic to or simply won’t eat. Or buy a bag of kibble when you shop for groceries and drop it off on your way home.
4. Adopt a rescue
Of course, when you are looking for your next pet, consider adopting from a shelter. Adopting from a shelter avoids the dilemma of possibly supporting a puppy or kitten mill operation plus you are making room for another animal in need. If you have a specific breed in mind, there are also rescue operations that are breed specific.
Being socially responsible these days isn’t just about helping other humans. Make compassionate choices in your everyday life.
It’s good for all of us who share this planet.