Meet 8-year-old Cocoa who is available for adoption at the Washington Humane Society (DC)
Meet 8-year-old Cocoa who is available for adoption at the Washington Humane Society (DC)

October is Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month! It’s a month where we shift our focus to the millions of shelter dogs who enter American animal shelters every year, and where far too many are euthanized. It’s a month for us to do even just one thing to help out and save a life.

So whether you have a dog, are thinking about adopting a dog, or just want to help dogs, this is a great month to help! If everyone who loves dogs just does one thing this month, it will have a great impact in the wellbeing of shelter dogs.

Listed below are 31 simple things that you can do this month to help a shelter dog. My challenge to anyone willing to take it is to do something every day. Are you with me? Here we go!

1. Adopt a shelter dog!

2. Volunteer for your local animal shelter or a dog rescue organization. Dog walkers, groomers and socializers dogs (for hoarding, puppy mill or dog fighting rescues) are always needed.

3. Open your home to foster a senior shelter dog, a dog with medical issues, or a mom with her puppies.

4. If you love to write, blog on social media about Adopt-A-Shelter Dog month, or write an editorial or article for your local newspaper encouraging people to adopt this month.

5. Educate someone about proper dog care and the responsibility that lasts a lifetime.

6. Offer to drive shelter dogs to/from veterinary appointments, mobile adoption events, or to their new homes.

7. If you are in school or have children in school, get the class involved in rounding up donations, such as dog toys, dog beds (Kuranda beds are excellent), collars, leashes, or monetary donations.

8. Make a financial donation to your local animal shelter. Do not shy away from helping shelters that euthanize because every dollar they receive could save a life. Consider donating to a specific animal to help pay for their shelter care, vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, etc.

9. If your local shelter or dog rescue group has senior dogs, ask a nursing home or assisted living facility if they would welcome a senior dog to live as a “comfort dog” for the residents, or allow the residents to adopt.

10. When you are shopping for pet food, purchase an extra bag of food, dog treats, or a toy and take it to your local shelter.

11. Host a fundraiser to benefit shelter dogs. If you are a storeowner, put out a donation canister. If you have a book club, yoga group, or other social organization, host an event where members bring donations. Considering inviting the shelter to bring a few adoptable shelter dogs to be there for the event (that will really tug on some heartstrings).

12. If you are an energy healer, offer to spend a day or an afternoon offering energy healing to the shelter dogs. Energy healing can relax and calm a nervous dog and make them more adoptable.

13. Share dog adoption posts on social media (even if the dog is located in another state). This new way of advertising shelter pets is helping them find new homes.

14. Check on elderly pet owners to make sure that they have sufficient means to care for their pet. Offer to walk their dog, groom their dog or go shopping for dog food. Dogs are wonderful companions to lonely elderly people and we can help out to make sure that they stay together and that the dog does not end up in a shelter.

15. If you belong to a community group or church, ask if you can give a presentation this month on shelter dogs, proper dog care, or other dog-related services.

16. If you are creative, think up a new campaign to help shelter dogs in your area get adopted and then share that with your local shelter.

17. Purchase household and beauty products that are not tested on animals. The practice of pound seizure (where shelter dogs are used in research) is still allowed in some states. There are many options available now that we can all choose cruelty-free products. Go to Leaping Bunny for a listing.

18. Go to a training on how search and rescue for animals during disasters. Many of the national animal protection organizations offer these trainings. When search and rescue efforts happen, it results in less dogs going into shelters.

19. If you are technologically inclined, offer to build or host a website at no cost (or reduced cost) for an animal shelter or animal rescue organization.

20. If you love to photograph, offer to photograph the shelter dogs. Photographs really do help to get dogs adopted. I have been photographing shelter pets for over 14 years and it’s really a fun thing to do!

21. If you love to write, offer to write up descriptions for the shelter dogs and post them on Petfinder. I love to do this and I always write from the voice of the pet.

22. If you have a young child, take them with you when volunteering to help shelter dogs.

23. If you are a veterinarian or veterinary technician, volunteer your services for a free shelter dog spay-neuter weekend.

24. Sign online petitions that support and help rehome shelter dogs.

25. Consider obtaining a credit card or checks (yah, that’s old school, but some of us still use them) that support animal protection organizations.

26. If you are crafty, ask your local shelter or rescue group if they would be interested in handmade safe dog toys, dog blankets, or “Adopt Me” bandanas.

27. If you see a dog listed in a free-to-good-home advertisement, please contact the person and advise them to charge a minimum $50 fee for rehoming the dog, and to screen the person, otherwise the dog could end up in a dangerous situation. Be proactive and outspoken.

28. If you are involved in animal-assisted therapy and are looking for a new therapy dog to work with, go to your local shelter or rescue group and ask them what dog naturally has therapy dog traits.

29. If your state has laws that do not benefit shelter animals (such as allowing gas chambers, pound seizure, or have do not promote adoptions), contact one of these to offer your help in passing/supporting better legislation: HSUS State Director, ASPCA regional director, a large animal shelter in your state that works on legislation, or your legislator to ask him/her to support shelter animal protection legislation.

30. If a shelter worker is doing good work for shelter dogs, tell them that you appreciate their work (in person, an email, a hand written note, or have yummy snacks delivered to the staff). A little kindness towards the shelter worker will benefit the shelter dogs.

31. And for more ideas grab a copy of my book “Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets.”

There are so many ways that you can get involved to help shelter dogs. I hope you will do at least one thing to help a shelter dog this month. Please post me a comment here or on my Facebook page about what you are doing. And if you decide to do something everyday, definitely let me know because you will be an inspiration to others.

Me and Dr. Seuss dog

Allie and Dr. Seuss

About Allie:

Allie Phillips is a nationally-recognized author, attorney and animal advocate. As a prosecuting attorney volunteering in her local animal control shelter, she exposed the barbaric practice of pound seizure and has gone on to eliminate the practice in numerous shelters. That started her path as a strong, effective and respected animal advocate. Allie has been a federal and state animal protection lobbyist and nationally trains criminal justice professionals on animal protection and prosecution issues. She has written the award-winning and only book on pound seizure: How Shelter Pets are Brokered for Experimentation: Understanding Pound Seizure and the go-to guide on getting involved to help animals: Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets. 

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