But for some low-income pet parents, inflation, housing costs, and the rising cost of pet food and veterinary care make it difficult.
All around the country — and the world — a movement is growing to help connect struggling pet parents with resources that will help them be able to live happy and healthy lives with their pets.
Are you interested in exploring ways to help keep pets out of shelters and in welcoming homes?
The following are some ways to provide pet assistance for low-income families.
1. Provide Assistance by Donating
There’s no shortage of love for pets — and pets that need good homes — but many families and organizations are in need of resources to pay for their care. So, if you’re in a position to donate to organizations that care about the welfare of people and pets, consider donating to shelters, foster organizations, or nonprofits that are working on their behalf.
There are good organizations working on every aspect of this social justice issue, and there are ways to discover whether an organization has a good track record of actually helping people and pets.
Along those lines, there are local, national, and global organizations that provide assistance with other essential elements of pet care. You can find groups that provide:
Financial assistance to veterinarians or pet parents
Low-cost spay and neuter services
Assistance with cancer or diabetes care
Help for care with specific breeds
Assistance for caring for rescue animals
Help paying for pet food
Help for pets with disabilities
Assistance for veterans
Euthanasia and pet loss
You’ll want to make sure you are donating to a reputable organization. The searchable website called GuideStar is a great resource for finding out about nonprofits. When comparing how an organization spends and deciding where to donate, it’s important to research the context behind the dollar amounts. When a nonprofit invests in their staff and infrastructure — “overhead” — they are better prepared to carry out their mission.
2. Provide Assistance by Volunteering
One free way to help a nonprofit make a difference in the lives of pets and people is to volunteer. Organizations like ours depend on volunteers to serve our mission of keeping pets in their forever homes and out of shelters. Some organizations have a formal process for becoming a volunteer.
If you like a nonprofit’s mission, you can ask them if they have volunteer opportunities for someone like you. Be prepared to tell them about your education, training, experience, skills, and/or abilities. These can be related to your work or past/present volunteer activities.
Also, let them know about your interests, what you’d like to offer to do, the amount of time you can give, and what days/times you’re available to volunteer. Volunteer leadership opportunities include becoming a committee member or a board member.
The organization’s staff or trusted volunteers can determine if they have something that might work well for both of you.
Keep in mind that an organization may have all the volunteer positions filled that are most suited to you, so offer to be placed on their volunteer prospect list. Since they’re busy people, reach out from time to time — say every 1 to 3 months — to determine if they have an opening available.
You can also volunteer at a local humane organization, rescue, or shelter. Shelter pets need lots of love, care, and attention. Volunteers help get the animals out of cages for exercise and socialization. They bring them into the community for meet and greets and help them to meet families that might be their ticket out of the shelter. The best opportunities are those organizations that can provide volunteer education. After all, dogs and cats in shelters may be scared and may react in unexpected ways.
If you aren’t able to commit to a lifetime pet, or have enough animals in your home already, other kinds of rescue organizations are always looking for foster families to help provide temporary care for pets while they get matched with a family that can adopt them. Fostering is a rewarding way to help animals feel comfortable around people and other pets while also helping the organization find a good match for a forever home.
3. Spread Awareness about This Important Issue
If you want to do something other than donate or volunteer, then helping a nonprofit spread the word about the good work that they do or about their cause is also free and very useful.
At One Health Organization, part of our mission is to spread the word about the growing need for assistance with the costs of pet care, especially the cost of veterinary care. We know how beneficial it is to share your life with a beloved pet, and we don’t want any pets going into shelters because their family can’t afford to provide health care for their pet.
Pet parents do better when they are connected with resources and education that can help them live their best lives together. Our People and Pets blog shares important information on caring for animals and about the work being done around the country to end the suffering of animals and connect people with critical resources. We also love to share the success stories of people in Northeast Ohio who have gotten through rough times after getting connected with resources to help them.
When we share these stories of real-life struggles and successes, the issue comes into focus for people, and more of us are willing to get involved by helping however we can.