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"Saving one dog may not change the world,
but the world will surely change for that one dog."

                                                                                                         — Author unknown


Millions of dogs remain homeless in the United States every year…but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little bit of time and effort on our part, we can have an impact on the lives of those dogs. Now, you may be asking, “How can I help? I’m just one person.” But take it from someone who has helped saved the lives of hundreds of dogs: You CAN make a difference.

There are a number of ways you can help homeless

dogs either directly or indirectly. For starters, you
can donate money. Monetary donations are critical

to the continued operation of many SPCA groups,
humane societies and rescue organizations because

in many cases donations are their only means of

financial support. You can also donate items to your

local animal shelter. Typically they are in need of

blankets, food, toys and cleaning products. Give

them a call and ask them what they need. One thing

most people don’t realize is that donating your TIME

can have an even greater impact…and it’s free! You

don’t have to purchase anything or collect anything

or ask anyone for a donation. Just go to your local
animal shelter and ask them how you can help.
The staff there have a lot of work every day just
like any other business: answering calls and
emails, assisting people at the front desk, filing
paperwork, keeping track of the animals taken in

and adopted out, feeding all the animals and
keeping them in good health, cleaning out the
kennels, fundraising and so much more. There
are many ways to volunteer your time, but the way

I enjoy helping the most is by walking the dogs at

the animal shelter. Just getting the dogs outside for

some fresh air and exercise is so beneficial! The dogs at an animal shelter are kenneled separately for health and safety reasons, but just like your dog at home, they need outdoor stimulation and interaction with others for their mental well-being. So the next time you go to your local shelter to drop off some food or old blankets, take a few minutes out of your day to walk one of the shelter dogs. You will make his day! (And I bet you’ll feel pretty good about it, too.)


Volunteering for a rescue group is also a great way to help dogs in need. Again, there are many ways to help such as: assist in managing some aspect of the rescue (organize events, help with fundraising, write grants, donate professional services such as legal advice); raise public awareness through advertising, seminars, and other media exposure; transport dogs to and from vet appointments or to and from adoption events; make phone calls to check references for potential adopters and to follow up with families who have already adopted; and perform home checks by interviewing an applicant at her home to help ensure we’re adopting dogs to good families.

In my opinion, the best way to volunteer your time is by fostering a dog. Being a foster parent is an incredibly rewarding experience because you help save a dog’s life! What could be more rewarding than that? It’s pretty simple: You take a dog into your home—maybe you know his background, maybe you don’t, maybe he was picked up as a stray, maybe he was surrendered by a family who no longer had time for him. You provide for him with food, shelter, medical attention (most rescue groups pay for a foster dog’s vet bills and some even pay for the dog’s food, too), companionship, socialization and most important of all Leadership and exercise. You help him become the best dog he can be! And when he’s ready for a new home, you play an integral role in finding him a good adoptive family—a “forever home” in rescue speak. And there’s a bonus: As soon as you find a good home for your foster dog, you can help another one in need by taking in a new foster dog. Yes, it is a big responsibility. But giving a dog a second chance at a happy life is a tremendous gift. Without foster parents, thousands of dogs would still be homeless or unnecessarily euthanized each year.

So whether you donate money, toys or blankets to your local animal shelter, give some of your time with a rescue group, help raise public awareness about homeless dogs, or take the big step by fostering a dog yourself, you can help.

Please volunteer. You can make a difference.


This is Ellie, a white German Shepherd found wandering the streets in Orange County, Virginia. The photo on the left shows how she looked the first day she arrived as my foster dog, dirty and with mange all over her rear end and legs. The right photo shows how healthy and beautiful Ellie became after only a few months of regular food and care.

To learn how you can volunteer to help dogs in need, contact your local animal shelter or call us at (703) 489-1319.

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