Animal-Friendly Ideas for Holiday and Year-Round Giving


There are lots of ways to help animals during the holiday season and, really, anytime.  For so many of us it seems like our homes are already filled with “stuff”, making us feel that it makes no sense to give one another even more “stuff”.  One gift option chosen by more and more people is to make a donation in someone’s name.  This is a lovely way to honor the relationship with the gift receiver while contributing to meaningful work.


Speaking of “too much stuff”, you can de-clutter your home while also helping an animal shelter.  Shelters are almost always looking for donations of used towels, sheets and blankets.  Just make sure there are no feathers or electric blankets.  It will help make a homeless animal cozy during the holidays and beyond.


Shelters also appreciate donations of new items such as paper towels, kitty litter, bleach, dog and cat treats and toys. Or perhaps a gift card so they can buy exactly what they need. Some other organizations have wish lists on Amazon, giving donors a chance to have that “shopping” experience while doing something wonderful.


As parents we can encourage our children to think about those in need, be it an animal or a person.  Enjoying the abundance that so many of us are lucky to have by finding ways to share it can give our children some of their happiest holiday memories.


Here are a few suggestions for holiday, as well as year-round, giving.  Many of the organizations helping animals are 501(c)(3) charities so your donations are tax deductable as allowed by law.  Consult each organization for details.


There are many organizations helping animals throughout Massachusetts.  The two largest and with the longest history are the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and the Animal Rescue League (ARL).  Both have multiple locations and provide law enforcement services as well as rescue and shelters offering pets for adoption.  Regarding law enforcement, these organizations work to solve animal abuse cases like the recent, high profile Puppy Doe case, every day.


There are also many volunteer-run rescue organizations that do not have headquarters but, instead, work though a network of dedicated rescuers and volunteers to facilitate placement of homeless pets into forever homes.  Two examples of reputable organizations that have matched local families, including A-DOG members, with loving family pets are American Lab Rescue and the New England Brittany Rescue.


You might want to apply to volunteer at an animal shelter, or do other volunteer work for a rescue group, during the coming year.  This is a nice “New Years Resolution” because you will need to go through an application and training process for most animal adoption organizations.


You might consider fostering an adoptable animal to give a homeless pet love and comfort and to help volunteer organizations, such as those mentioned above, rescue more animals.   Becoming a foster family or volunteering in other ways for a shelter or rescue organization are very rewarding.  Or, you might consider opening your home more permanently, as a “forever home”, adopting a homeless pet.  There are so many wonderful pets just waiting for homes in adoption centers all over the state.  Those especially in need are older pets that often get overlooked.  What about giving a pet somewhere to finish his or her days surrounded by kindness and warmth?


Donate unopened, unexpired pet food and treats to Arlington Food Pantry.  (And, while you’re at it, donate some food for human family members, as well.)  Whole Foods in Arlington now has a bin where donations may be left.




Make a donation to an organization that supports therapy or service dog programs, including: Dog B.O.N.E.S.: Therapy Dogs of Massachusetts and NEADS:  Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans.


Make a donation to or volunteer for an organization that works to reunite families with their lost pets.  These include some of the organizations listed above (MSPCA and ARL) but also the Granite State Dog Recovery (GSDR), a volunteer run nonprofit organization that has successfully recovered many lost dogs in NH and MA.  (Most recently, an elderly, vulnerable Arlington dog that had wandered from home over the Thanksgiving holiday was safely recovered through outreach by GSDR.).


Help Arlington’s Animal Control Officer by donating items to help her recover and care for lost or stray pets.  There is an wish list or, for larger giving, contact her directly to learn about bigger projects and needs.

(The portrait of Amanda Kennedy, Arlington’s Animal Control Officer is by artist Shunsuke Yamaguchi, Arlington.)


This article was reprinted from the A-DOG Wags and Tags newsletter, December, 2013 edition.  To receive Wags and Tags by email, click here:

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