In honor of Clear the Shelters Day 2019, here are tips from Meg on how you can support local shelters. This post was written my Meg Mars of K9ofmine.com
The pups need you! Millions of lovable canines are currently sitting in a lonely shelter, waiting for a forever home and family they can call their own.
And while any day is a good day to adopt a pup, one day in particular is ideal: Clear the Shelters Day, which occurs on August 17th.
1. Make flyers for a particularly awesome shelter dog
Getting dogs adopted is as much about awareness and advertising as anything else, so take an hour to whip up some posters and plaster them around town (coffee shops are an especially effective place to post them).
Be sure to include a photo or two of the pup in question, as well as a few facts and tidbits about her. Perhaps you could share a bit of her history and explain why she ended up in a shelter (which was undoubtedly no fault of her own), and it’s also fun to include some fun facts, like her favorite game to play or treats to eat.
2. Foster a pup in need
This just in: Despite the best efforts of the resident staff, life in a shelter isn’t exactly a blast for dogs.
Many dogs get stressed while living in a shelter, and this can trigger behavioral problems over time. But many of these dogs – even those who aren’t exactly the well-behaved angels we’d like them to be – will transform into completely new canines when given the chance to live in a proper home.
Accordingly, fostering helps make many dogs more adoptable and appealing to potential pet parents. Simply put, four-footers who get to live in a foster home usually make a better impression on visiting two-footers, who may like to take them home.
And let’s not forget, you’ll also benefit by fostering a dog. Not only will it warm your heart to know you’re helping a good floof in a bad situation, you’ll get to pal around with a lovable pooch for a few weeks or months.
If this sounds like a good idea, consider contacting your local shelter and asking about their fostering program for dogs.
3. Mentor a first-time dog owner
Dog ownership isn’t exactly rocket science, but there is a lot to learn. Not only do first-time owners need to learn about the basic care requirements of dogs, but they also have to learn a few basic training principles too.
This can make the process overwhelming for novices, but there’s an easy way to fix this: Just volunteer to help a friend or acquaintance as they navigate this process.
Start by helping them zero in on the basic type of dog they want. Most shelter dogs are lovable mutts, so they don’t need to focus very much on specific breeds (although that can be helpful). Instead, they simply need to figure out whether they want something like a super-high-energy and playful husky mix, or if a chill little mixed-breed toy dog would be a better fit for their family.
You can also help them during the first few weeks after they bring the new pup home. They’ll undoubtedly have questions about bathroom procedures, the house-training process, which food they should pick up, and where the closest dog park is. Even if you don’t know the answers to all of their questions, you’ll be in a better position to help them find the answers they need.
4. Volunteer at a local animal shelter
Most shelters are thinly staffed, which makes it hard for them to be as helpful as they’d like to be during the adoption process. And although this simply sounds like an inconvenience, it has a direct effect on the dogs in need, as people are more likely to adopt a dog when they have a volunteer walk them through the process and take the time to answer their questions.
But if you volunteer at a local shelter, you’ll be able to help pitch in with these tasks, and guide wanna-be pup parents as they pick out a dog. This will undoubtedly help make the adopters feel better, which will help the adoptees find their way into a new home.
For that matter, you can even help visitors narrow down their potential choices. Just ask them what kind of dog they are looking for and direct them to a few favorite canine candidates! This means you’ll need to familiarize yourself with some of the dogs first (I know – it’s hard work, but someone’s gotta do it), so you can point people in the right direction.
In fact, by reducing the number of choices a potential adopter has to consider, you can increase the chances that they’ll actually take a pup home. This is due to something called the choice paradox, which essentially states that too many options can cause people to withdraw from the decision-making process entirely.
So, gently guide visitors to the types of dogs they seem to be interested in. By narrowing down the number of options available, you can tangibly increase the chances of a given pooch going home with a new family.
Of course, while your local shelter will certainly appreciate your efforts during Clear the Shelters day, they’ll likely welcome the help throughout the year. Most shelters are busiest during weekends and holidays, so they can really use your help during these times.
Another thing to keep in mind is that volunteering at a shelter can give you a great chance to learn more about dog training and behavior. Many shelters offer entry-level classes for their volunteers, which will help you learn how to better care for (and love) the dogs in the shelter, as well as your own pet at home! You can also learn the basics by watching free dog training videos online and then putting the lessons into practice when you head to the shelter.
Finally, because potential adopters are usually more interested in dogs who already know how to sit, stay, “high five,” than those who don’t, you’ll be able to give some of the shelter dogs a better chance at adoption, by simply spending some quality time with them.
5. Spread the word on social media
It’s time to put your social media obsession to good use! Social media certainly gets a bad wrap these days, but it is unquestionably a fantastic way to raise awareness about the plight of shelter dogs!
Who among us doesn’t stop to smile when a friend or colleague posts a photo of an adorable furball? Leverage this to your advantage, by spreading the word about Clear the Shelters day on your social media channels.
But don’t just make a vague post about the holiday and call it a day. Instead, do a little homework about the local shelters in your area, and include some of that information in your post. You may want to mention the basics of your chosen shelter, such as the adoption fees or hours of operation, and you may even want to advertise on behalf of a specific pup.
These strategies will certainly help you do your part for pups on Clear the Shelters Day, but there are countless other ways you can pitch in.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.