If you’re a pet parent or just a dedicated animal lover, you know how much joy animals can bring to our lives. Now could be a good time to return the favor.
On Giving Tuesday 2020, Americans gave around $2.5 billion to causes they cared about, in just 24 hours. No matter the cause that’s close to your heart—that’s a lot of Milkbones, cat beds, and veterinary care for animals in need.
This giving season is your chance to spread your love of animals—Giving Tuesday, remember, is the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. We asked our friends and Giveback partners The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International (SPCAI) and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) what we can do to help make the biggest impact on animal rights causes, year round.
Whether you’re an activist, a busy bee, tight on cash, or looking for a new challenge, you can find a giving opportunity that works for you.
Share animal rights causes
For a quick and impactful way to make a difference, SPCAI advises that animal lovers raise their voice: “Advocacy work makes a lasting impact in the lives of animals everywhere. Share petitions, animals looking for homes, and educational articles.”
A single social media share can make a difference to an animal in search of a loving home, or to shed light on a current animal rights issue. If it matters to you, it probably matters to somebody else in your network.
Become a “citizen lobbyist” for animals
For those looking to engage with animal rights through political activism, you can become citizen lobbyist with HSUS, and advocate for animal rights causes on the local, state, and national level.
As a citizen lobbyist, you can help mobilize and educate voters in your area to elect legislators who support animal rights causes. In addition, as a citizen lobbyist, the HSUS empowers you to form coalitions and meet with congress members face-to-face to discuss animal rights issues and advocate on behalf of their animal-loving constituents.
For the animal lover who isn’t afraid of the political circus, this is one impactful way to make a difference.
Shop with animal-friendly businesses
Consumer activism is a good way to support animal-friendly businesses. The Humane Society of the US provides some useful resources for consumers hoping to conscientiously shop with animal rights in mind. Their Food Industry Scorecard shows which grocers, food brands, and restaurants have the most humane policies in place.
HSUS also helped to create the Leaping Bunny program, which helps consumers shop for cruelty-free cosmetic and household products.
You can also feed two birds with one scone, by doing some holiday shopping on AmazonSmile, which contributes a portion of every purchase to your favorite animal welfare organization.
Walk a dog for the day
“Regardless of where you are in the world, turn to your local animal shelter,” recommends SPCAI. “Animal shelters everywhere are struggling with the continuing effects of COVID-19, especially now during the hardest time of the year.”
If you’ve got the time and energy volunteering at an animal shelter could be an amazing way to give back, without any financial obligation
Volunteering could mean cleaning cat cages, taking dogs on walks, helping to socialize animals to prepare them for adoption, or assisting with the shelter’s education and outreach efforts.
Depending on your specific skills and interests, you can find the right shelter volunteer experience for you. And on a selfish level, you’ll get something out of it too: the chance to spend time surrounded by adorable animals, without the long-term commitment.
If you don’t have the time and energy, as the holidays are coming up, you can donate to SPCAI’s Shelter Support Fund. Winter is especially harsh in many parts of the world, where dogs are left in below freezing temperatures. One-hundred percent of donations to the Shelter Support Fund go directly into supporting shelters in need around the world.
Foster a fur baby
That said, if you’re looking for a medium-term commitment, there are options. Fostering an animal right now is especially meaningful. In the past months, natural disasters, the end of eviction moratoriums, and staffing shortages mean that animals in shelters can use all the support they can get.
Fostering an animal before they’re adopted helps to socialize a pet who may be completely unfamiliar with the warmth of a loving home. Fostering a dog or cat could help bring them out of their shell, allowing their personalities to really shine. After spending some time with you, your foster might be more likely to be adopted permanently.
The fostering experience could last for as little as a couple days, but has the potential to last months. Shelters will usually provide foster parents with food, medicine, and basic supplies to take some of the financial bite out of caring for a new animal, full-time.
Sometimes animals need to be fostered because they are recovering from a medical procedure and need a quiet place to recover. Other animals are good candidates for foster homes because they find the shelter environment stressful, or the shelter environment triggers behavioral issues. Get the full dossier on your potential foster before you take them home to make sure their transition into your home goes smoothly.
Who knows, your fostering experience could end up lasting a lifetime, if it ends up as a “foster fail” (slang for when you fall so hard for your ‘temporary’ pet that you decide to give them a forever home).
Adopt a new forever friend
Every year, over 6 million animals enter shelters in the U.S. One of the most lasting ways you can help animal shelters and the animal community as a whole is by adopting and welcoming an abandoned animal into your home. By loving, protecting, and, of course, spaying/neutering an animal from off the streets (or from out of an abusive home), you are doing your part to end animal homelessness and abuse, while giving a pet the beautiful life they deserve.
But keep in mind, adopting is a lifetime emotional and financial commitment, so make sure you are prepared to commit before you take your new best friend home.
Search for a shelter in your area and set up visits with other members of your household to start getting to know some potential animal companions.
Pet parenthood can be expensive, and it requires TLC, responsibility, and regular vet visits. We happen to think it’s pretty worth it.
Donate to animal rights causes
Not everyone can foster, volunteer, or adopt. We get that.
Even if you are hoping to make a simple cash donation, you can still find a personal way to contribute to animal rights causes. But which ones?
If you’re looking for a cause that speaks to your heart, use GuideStar to find a reputable animal rights organization to donate to, and find the right giving plan for you.
For example, with Animal Haven, an animal shelter in New York City, you have the option to contribute through a one-time donation, a monthly contribution, a personal fundraiser, and you can even name them as a beneficiary in your will or life insurance policy.
You can also become a rescuer with SPCA International. These vital monthly gifts go directly to saving animals year round. Every month, rescuers receive an email with pictures of the animals they directly helped to save.
TIP: Check if an animal rights organization offers an employer match program with your workplace. These programs can help amplify your giving power.
Before we go…
The fight to end animal suffering around the globe might sound overwhelming, but HSUS left us with the following message of encouragement:
“Not one of us individually can tackle all of these issues, but together we can—and will—make a real difference, helping people, the planet, and our friends in the animal kingdom.”
In 2020, Lemonade policyholders donated over $364,000 to animal rights causes through the Lemonade Giveback. Thank you to SPCAI, HSUS, and Animal Haven for their insights and for the vital work that they do.