by Angie Hultgren
As a gift giver, you seek a gift that has a personal, yet fun balance. In our family, the gift exchange tradition is for the humans and the four-legged companions; we all get into the holiday spirit and have gifts under the tree. If you have a pet, they certainly make your holiday shopping list, but what about furry friends who aren’t part of your family? This is the season to not only receive, but to give.
Have you thought of giving to the pets in your community who have yet to find a forever home? They are often underfunded, underserved and of course voiceless to their needs that continue year around, but the holidays afford an opportunity to bring their needs to the forefront.
Local rescue groups operated by kind people who rescue animals from shelters and place them in the care of foster families. These groups provide food, kennels, and veterinary care to help these animals find forever homes. They go largely unnoticed in the eyes of the communities, especially around the holidays. Here are a few ways to raise awareness and resources for these furry friends and their hero humans.
1. At family gift exchanges, instead of trading gifts cards with each other choose an organization that you can give a gift/donation to. With social media, you can follow the organization and see what your gifts have done for these dogs and cats that are searching for homes.
2. Give random gifts of kindness. Recently, a local rescue organization called Vicky’s Pet Connection posted a “wish list” on Amazon that included all of the immediate needs for the organization. This was by far the easiest way for me to give because it shipped right to their doorstep. Look for simple opportunities like this where shifting only a few dollars of your budget can satisfy the needs of a lonely pet.
3. Start the New Year off with a commitment to volunteer. It can be a refreshing way to establish a resolution. It is a unique and rewarding experience. You can spend time walking, cleaning, and feeding these loving animals, and if you fall in love with it like I did, you could move on to fostering dogs in your home. Most organizations will accept foster home applications. Fostering is a tough job, but yields proud and rewarding experiences.
4. You can also sponsor a pet who is in the shelter environment. The Humane Society of West Michigan gives you the opportunity to sponsor a select kennel. You can donate to aid with spay and neuter efforts, or purchase them new bedding with your sponsorship. Little things make a huge difference. If you are like me and lost a very special pet, you can even make an honorary donation in their name.
5. Anonymously donate to a local emergency clinic or veterinary practice. Ask the money to be confidentially given to a pet in need or a specific rescue group. There are many families who struggle during the holidays, and in the event that an emergency happens, this monetary support can impact someone in need.
Paying it forward to needy pets in your community is a great way of extending gratitude beyond your immediate family. Doing all your giving this year with passion and love will ensure a
Local organizations to contact:
Pet Tales Rescue: www.pettalesrescue.com
Humane Society: www.hswestmi.org
Vicky’s Pet Connection: www.vickyspetconnection.com
Carol’s Ferals: www.carolsferals.org