Whether you’re a dog person, a cat person, or an all-round animal lover, it’s natural to want to do #BagsMore for animals in need. The problem is that aside from donating to welfare charities, it’s not always obvious what else you can do.
Fortunately, people like Helen [link] all over the country are proving that caring for our furry friends is easier than you’d think. And here are just a few ideas to help you get started, too…
1. Volunteer at your local shelter
Animal shelters need help with all kinds of things. And even if you only have an hour to spare a week, you could make a huge difference. From exercising the animals to cleaning out cages, grooming the pets to greeting the visitors, manning charity shops to managing fundraising events, just get in touch with your local organisation to find out where they need an extra pair of hands.
2. Sponsor an assistance animal
If you don’t have the space or time to adopt a rescue animal, these clever critters are the perfect compromise. Training hearing dogs, guide dogs and other assistance animals to support owners with disabilities isn’t cheap, so the organisations who do it are always looking for sponsors. It can cost as little as £3 a month, and you receive regular updates (and cute pictures!) in the post to show how the training is going.
3. Get creative
Got a skill that a charity could use? Writers, graphic designers, web developers and photographers are all incredibly useful to animal welfare organisations, as they help raise awareness both online and in the media. Photographers can also take pictures of animals waiting to be adopted – and help them find their forever homes, faster.
4. Feed the birds all year round
…and not just in winter. As the human environment gets increasingly built up, British birds have fewer places to find food, whatever the season. You can pick up feeders, seeds, nuts and suet mixes from all good pet shops and garden centres. Then all you need to do is hang them up.
5. Help out a neighbour
Know someone who loves their dog but struggles to walk it? Whether it’s an elderly neighbour or a friend who’s feeling under the weather, offering assistance with walkies is a great little way to brighten a dog’s (and owner’s) day.
6. Organise a litter pick
Litter is a huge problem for wildlife and pets alike, with tens of thousands of animals killed or injured by our waste every year.* But you can make a difference to those near you by organising a local litter pick. All you’ll need is some messy outside space, a team of willing rubbish-wranglers, and a few key pieces of equipment: plastic gloves, refuse sacks, hi-vis clothing, and that all-important litter picker.
7. Spread the word
Put up posters on community notice boards, distribute leaflets at local events, and share adoption profiles, news articles and success stories on social media. This can all attract more donations and rehoming opportunities to your local shelter or charity, which means #BagsMore help for all the animals in need.
8. Think before you throw things out
Old bedding, toys, towels and more can all be invaluable to animal shelters. So before you take your old stuff to the dump, give your local dog or cat home a call. You never know what could be on their wish list…
*[Telegraph, Litter and Fly Tipping Facts, 2008].