If the government shut down has given you some extra time at home, and your pets don't need any behavior modification, consider spending some time at an animal shelter or offering your services to a home based rescue.
Like being around dogs, cats and other animals? Offer your services as a walker, trainer, cuddler, cleaner, etc..
Like people (and helping pets indirectly)? Volunteer as a receptionist, work as an adoption counselor, or make cold calls for donations.
Computer skills? Volunteer to do data entry, social networking, computer programming, etc..
Handy? - Volunteer to improve the kennels or fix up other buildings. Fix plumbing or other problems.
Enjoy landscaping? Volunteer to help spruce up the grounds.
Like number crunching? Volunteer to process donations.
Extra space at home? Consider fostering.
Caution: Before you volunteer, consider the following:
1. If you are the type of person who can't say no and you will be tempted to take in way more pets than you can easily care for or afford, then don't volunteer at a shelter. You might be able to find other indirect ways that you can help animals such as donations (can be monetary or gifts such as cleaning and office supplies, leashes, etc..)
2. Don't let anyone at the rescue agency bully or shame you into doing more than you are willing to do. Don't let anyone play on your sympathies. Don't volunteer at agencies who will say things to you such as: "if you don't take this pet home, he will die."
3. Before fostering, get a contract in writing that states who will pay for food, medical care etc.. Be up front about how long you can keep the pet. Find out what the procedures will be if finding an adoptive home takes longer than the time you are willing to foster. Be sure you know what will be expected of you when you foster. Some rescues want fosters to bring their charges to adoption events.
See more information here.
To find a rescue agency near you, google "[your city] animal shelters", or "[your city] rescues", or go to petfinder.com and click on shelters and rescues
Tell us about your volunteer experiences in the comments section below
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