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Top 6 Donations Your Local Shelter Needs

Sunday, November 8, 2015
Help stretch pet-saving budgets by donating much-needed items

Dogs with presentsStaff and volunteers at your local shelter are experts at stretching their limited budgets. They are able to do more to save homeless pets with the help of donations from pet lovers.

Before you buy giant bags of cat food or drop off your dog’s old food bowls, check out this list to see what shelters need most.

1. Money

Shelters work on tight budgets. They need money, whether it’s online donations, gift cards or checks. Check your local shelter’s website for a link to a secure donation form. Many shelters have monthly giving programs — you can help by providing a predictable source of shelter income in a tax-deductible and easy way.

If you’re more of a gift-card giver, consider the options that will make the greatest impact. Gift cards to pet-supply stores enable staff to purchase whatever their shelter’s pets need. Home improvement and office-supply store cards are also good choices because they help defray the expenses of keeping a facility operating smoothly.

2. Cleaning Supplies

You know what it’s like cleaning up after your own pets. Imagine how fast you’d go through cleaning supplies if you had dozens of them all at once!

Keeping a shelter sanitary is a big job. Shelters need bleach, window cleaner, dishwashing liquid with degreaser (like original Dawn) and disinfecting wipes, such as Clorox. Don’t forget, paper towels and trash bags. Towels and washcloths give pets a comfy surface on which to recover from medical care. Plus, they help keep pets clean — and who doesn’t love a nice fresh towel after a bath?

3. Toys

Give homeless pets something to do while they wait for their new families to find them. Donations of clean, durable toys that can be disinfected are important to keeping stress low and pets healthy. Be sure to stick with toys that can be washed and sanitized frequently.

Cat toys, such as ping-pong balls, plastic bell balls and disposable cardboard scratchers offer hours of safe fun. Dog toys of all sizes, such as Kongs and Nylabones, can be disinfected easily and provide mental and physical stimulation. (Keep in mind that shelters often are short on larger toys for big dogs.)

Steer clear of stuffed toys, catnip toys or squeak toys. They aren’t durable so they can’t be cleaned easily, and stronger chewers will swallow the squeaky mechanisms.

4. Training Supplies

Donate purchased (rather than homemade) treats, which can be used for training and socialization. Shelters go through quite a bit of peanut butter and squeezable cheese, so those are good donations too, provided they’re stored safely and you check the expiration dates.

Strong nylon collars and 6-foot leashes are always in demand. Sometimes when a pet is adopted, he walks out proudly on the collar and leash a shelter employee used to walk him through the facility. You can help by replacing them.

5. Furnishings and Equipment

Shelter life is more comfortable for homeless pets when they have a clean, soft place to rest. Good-condition crates and kennels of all sizes, old newspapers, pet beds and blankets can make the difference between resting on a hard floor and a napping in a cozy spot.

6. Office Products

A shelter’s office is the hidden center of saving lives. Behind-the-scenes items that every office uses, like printer paper, pens and office supplies, are welcome. Anything you donate is one fewer item for the shelter to buy with the funds they’re already working to stretch.

However, consider that shelters are often pressed for office space. For example, your donation of 6 cases of printer paper would be extremely generous, but your shelter probably doesn’t have room to store them. Avoid causing a storage problem — if your donation will take up a fair amount of space, ask before you give.

Still unsure about your donation?

Shelters often face space challenges as well as budget constraints, so avoid donating used possessions that aren’t likely to help. Some examples of items that aren’t needed: most used items, such as stuffed toys, open bags of food and treats, litter boxes, medical supplies, furniture, pillows, large comforters or blankets and computer equipment.

Donating food can be tricky, because it’s important to keep pets’ diets consistent. Some shelters use high-quality canned food for kittens or picky eaters. If you want to donate food, ask your local shelter which kind is best.

When in doubt, contact your local shelter directly. Some even have lists on their own websites (or Amazon Wish Lists) so you can order and send items to the shelter easily.

Thank you for helping your local shelters. They couldn’t do their lifesaving work without help from pet lovers!

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