How to Donate to a Dog Shelter

Dalmation puppy

Dog shelters provide a very important service, often with very limited financial resources. Animal shelters and rescue organizations take in homeless canines, including unwanted litters of puppies, pets who are abused or whose owners can no longer care for them, stray dogs, and other animals who are in need of a family. Providing safe quarters, food, and veterinary care for a large number of unwanted animals is quite expensive. These types of shelters rely heavily on donations of both money and goods.

How to Donate

Find a Shelter

If the idea of donating to a dog shelter interests you, find out what options are available in your community. If you aren't familiar with the local shelters, look up your city on the ASPCA's website or You can also ask at veterinary offices and pet supply stores. Once you identify the shelters in your area, conduct a little research to determine which one (or ones) you'd like to assist.

Call or Visit

Once you've decided which shelter you'd like to donate to, you may find it rewarding to stop by the shelter in person and drop your donations off. That way you can see the animals that you are helping firsthand. If that's not an option for you, or if you are donating a large item like furniture or a vehicle, call and see if a shelter employee or volunteer can pick up your items for you. If you're simply donating money, you may be able to do so online through PayPal or the shelter's website or just drop a check in the mail.

Attend an Event

Most shelters hold one or more special events per year, such as adoption days at local pet stores or spay/neuter clinics. These events create two excellent ways to donate. First, you can show up at the event to drop off your donation. Second, you can donate your time at the event. To find out about upcoming events, visit the shelter's website and sign up for the newsletter. You'll get updates in the mail or in your e-mail when things come up. If the shelter doesn't have a newsletter, call and ask for the dates and times and write them down in your personal calendar. Note that shelter representatives often attend events not exclusively held for the shelter, such as city or county sponsored dog walks and pet supply expos.

What to Donate

While all shelters will appreciate cash donations, most shelters also need the following items:

  • Newspapers
  • Dog food
  • Towels
  • Toys
  • Bedding
  • Collars and leashes
  • Puppy milk and bottles
  • Treats
  • Dog dishes
  • Stainless steel buckets
  • Laundry detergent
  • Baby wipes
  • Trash bags
  • Gauze
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lint rollers
  • Dog brushes and combs
  • Dog shampoo
  • Cameras
  • Office supplies

Some shelters put a most-wanted list up on their website to assist potential donors. If you don't have cash or items to donate, one of the most valuable things you can do is regularly donate your time instead. Shelters need volunteers to do everything from walking dogs to putting stamps on envelopes. Often, you have to attend a short orientation and commit to a couple hours per week or month. However, the shelter will work with your schedule.

Document Your Donation

Most dog shelters are non-profit organizations, so keep a record of when and what you donate for your next year's taxes. If you give an in-kind donation instead of just cash, still be sure you get a receipt. You may be able to deduct the value of the item.

It can be tough to visit the shelter and not want to take a dog home with you. So be prepared to welcome a new furry friend into your life, or consider becoming a foster parent if you have limited time and resources. Foster parents keep sick, injured or very young animals in their homes until they are ready to be adopted.

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How to Donate to a Dog Shelter