Being a pet-friendly community starts with working to end pet homelessness. Experts believe about 6.5 million pets end up at shelters every year across the United States. Through our BETTER CITIES FOR PETS™ program, we work to help cities tackle pet homelessness and increase adoption.
Here are seven ways you can help in your community.
1. Know the causes of pet homelessness.
Most pets who are homeless got there through no fault of their own. From financial strain, to owner illness to housing issues, life changes for owners affect many pets. Initiatives that help address these causes, like pet-friendly housing and support for pet owners facing financial challenges, can help.
2. Spay and neuter pets.
Spaying and neutering pets can help reduce unplanned litters that could end up homeless. It’s not right for every pet, so you’ll want to talk with your veterinarian. But for many pets it’s a helpful step that can even offer health benefits. You can see more about the potential benefits of spay/neuter surgery here.
If you’re looking to add a pet to your family, consider adopting from a shelter or rescue. Not only do you give a pet a second chance, you can find a pet that’s a great match to your family. Chose the age, personality and activity level you want since there are so many homeless pets to choose from. Here’s more about the benefits of adoption.
Want some examples? Check out the stories of Stevie, Ray and Aspen, PEDIGREE Foundation’s Rescue Dogs of the Year for 2020, 2021 and 2022. They are all wonderful examples of why shelter pets deserve a second chance.
4. Make sure your pet doesn’t get lost.
The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that 1 in 3 family pets will be lost at some point. Being microchipped and wearing an ID tag is vital to make sure they get home. Also, you might want to consider a pet tracker, which gives you even more information about your pet’s location. Check out this article for more tips.
5. Be a volunteer.
Shelters and rescues need help to support the many homeless pets they assist every year. As a volunteer, you can help pets get exercise, be socialized and even spread the word to encourage their adoption. You can even make volunteering a family project.
6. Help lost pets.
If you discover a lost pet, try to find their home before leaving them at a shelter. Ask around your neighborhood. Check with the local shelter for advice. Have their microchip scanned at the shelter or a vet. Post on Facebook and Instagram. Put up posters and look at “lost pet” alerts.
If you can open your home to the pet temporarily while you take these steps, you may be able to help the pet get home while not adding to crowding at the shelter.
That said, if you’re not able to house the pet until his or her owner is found, the shelter is the best place for them. Giving a lost pet to someone else who isn’t their owner may slow down the process, or in some cases, mean they don’t get home.
7. Donate to help homeless pets.
Organizations across the country work tirelessly to help, but with millions of pets becoming homeless each year, they need your support. Donate to your local shelter or to organizations like PEDIGREE Foundation that offer grants to many shelters and rescues that help pets get adopted.
Want more ways to help pets in your community? Check out our Helping Homeless Pets Toolkit for resources for cities, tools for shelters and tips for pet lovers.