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It’s that time of year again. With a new year comes new resolutions!  Have you considered making a difference for good in 2019? Maybe you’ve made previous resolutions of donating to help dogs in need, but it just didn’t work out as you hoped? We’ve got 8 ways for you to help dogs all throughout 2019.

Photo Credit: @teddy.takesthecity

The first step is to find a cause that is important to you! The cause you support should be something that is truly important to you or close to your heart. This will help keep your resolution alive and well even into the later months of September and October.

Next, you’ll want to figure out exactly how or what you want to donate. This can be the part of the resolution that often trips people up, so we’ve put together a list of ways you can make an impact on a dog in need’s life.

1. Monetary Donations

If you’ve hit the lottery and are able to donate large portions of money to your favorite dog charity or shelter, go for it! Unfortunately, despite our tries, most of us are not lottery winning millionaires, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make monetary donations.

There are many ways to make monetary donations – the easiest is to go to your charity’s website and make a one-time donation. To help keep your resolution going throughout the year, many charities make it easy for your to setup a monthly recurring donation.

Photo Credit: @rambothepuppy

Another great way to make monetary donations that directly impact your fellow community members is to check your local Veterinarian’s office for a emergency fund. These funds are often labeled as “Frank’s Fund, Lucky’s Kisses”, etc. Any monetary donations added to the jar are put into a fund for fellow client’s unexpected emergencies. No one expects to have an emergency, but payment is still due at time of service at most Veterinarian offices and this fund helps families in need that may be either low income or hard on their luck.

2. Recycle, Reuse!

Dog shelters are always in need of many items you probably have laying around your house or in storage. A hot item always in need are blankets or towels. Maybe you’ve been saving old Winnie the Pooh blankets from your childhood? While Winnie the Pooh may not work in your guest room, dog shelters will happily welcome your old blankets and/or towels. Dogs are easy to please and don’t care if the blanket you donate is themed. All that matters is that the blanket is comfy, not ripped and doesn’t have any holes. These blankets and towels help keep shelter dogs warm and cozy while waiting for their forever home.

Photo Credit: @spcatexas

3. Your Time!

There’s no greater gift you can give a dog shelter than your time! Dog shelters rely on the kind hearts of their neighbors to help keep the dogs happy while in their care. Often, dog shelters are functioning solely on donations so unfortunately, it is not in the budget to have a large staff, even though a large staff is often necessary.

Dog shelters are always in need of dedicated dog walkers. As we learned from our MD SPCA shelter visit, becoming a volunteer dog walker takes many hours of training.  If you’re looking to volunteer, but might not have as much spare time as needed for dog walkers, ask you local shelter if you can volunteer at an upcoming event or fundraiser. Also, an even more fun way to volunteer is to be a dog cuddler! These volunteers come in and spend time with the dogs in their run. You can read the dog a book, tell him about your day or simply just snuggle with him. 

4. Toy & Food Donations!

Despite many shelters having trained dog walkers that volunteer on their own time to come in and walk the dogs outside, dogs are still left in a run for hours on end. Toys not only help keep dogs busy, but toys can be a great exercise for their minds as well. Before you buy or donate toys, check with your local dog shelter. Dog shelters will often have a wish list of toys that are best suited for the dogs in their care. And, while you might not see Benebone on a wish list, if your shelter lists “chew toys”, you can be sure that they will welcome Benebones! (Fun Fact: Benebone sends over 50 donation boxes a month to various US dog shelters and organizations. Keep an eye on our Instagram account for shelter donation giveaways to nominate your favorite non-profit or let us know in the comments below who we should send a box to next.)

Photo Credit: @narps2015

Many dog shelters run a food bank, which is solely dependent on donations. Food banks help low income, homeless or families having short-term financial hardship to feed their dog. Since these food banks do not have access to refrigerators or freezers, the food donated often has to be a dry kibble. Again, you’ll want to check with your local dog shelter to see which brand of food they ask you to donate.

Photo Credit: @lextasyy

5. Foster A Dog!

Maybe it’s not the right time for you to adopt a dog, but have you considered fostering a dog? Many dog shelters are sadly overcrowded or certain dogs may have medical issues which prevent them from staying at the shelter. That’s when dog shelters look to the community for vital help. Fostering helps dog shelters take in and care for more dogs than possible on site. Another benefit to dog fostering is that you can set the parameters for which kind of dog you want to help foster. Maybe you’re on a puppy high and have the time needed to devote to only fostering puppies.

Photo Credit: @furbabyfostermom

Or, maybe, you have a soft spot for anxious seniors. Either way, fostering gives you a unique opportunity to help dogs of diverse backgrounds in which you may have never had the opportunity to interact with.

Photo Credit: @socialteesnyc

6. Participate In Events!

Attending a fundraiser events is probably the easiest and social way to support your local dog shelter. Visit your dog shelter’s website or Facebook page and take a look at their upcoming events. Typically for these events, you will have to purchase a ticket to attend, however, all the proceeds go back to helping the shelter. It’s a win-win: you and your dog get to mingle with other local pups and the shelter raises funds to continue helping dogs in need.

Photo Credit: Petbacker

7. Put Your Talents to Work!

Do you have an Instagram account for your dog? With that, comes dog photography experience. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a novice, lend your talent to your local dog shelter. One of the toughest battles for shelter dogs is getting a good photo online. Let’s be honest, many of us look online for adoptable dogs. Much like human dating apps, dogs need to have their best paw forward and this is where you come in. Lend your talents to help shelter dogs get adopted. It can be something as little as finding a better background within the shelter to take the dog’s photograph to bringing in a light kit to help brighten up your subject’s cuteness.

Photo Credit: @amandastrozeskiphotos

8. Drive or Fly Dogs In Need!

As dog shelters become progressive and mobile, the need to transport dogs has greatly increased. Shelters have begun broadening their reach beyond their state lines and have also began partnering with shelters in various states to help combat overcrowding.

It’s becoming more frequent for dog shelters to ask volunteers to help transport dogs to another state, across the country or even from other countries. While private pilots often donate their time and expertise to fly dogs from one shelter to another, everyday citizens can also volunteer to help fly a dog in need. Often, a rescue may be in dire need to save a dog at a high kill facility. However, in order to save the dog’s life, they need someone to fly the dog to the rescue’s home state. Many of these dogs cannot fly in cargo and rely on someone traveling to help transport them in the cabin safely.  

Photo Credit: @humanerescue

If you’re someone who likes road trips, consider helping a dog shelter by driving their newly adopted dogs to their new forever home. While this can be a long distance drive, this added benefit to dog adoption has helped save more dogs than originally possible when limiting adoptions to local residents only.

Photo Credit: @jenn_ziesk

Ultimately, there’s no wrong way to help shelter dogs in need. This year let’s resolve to help give back to dogs who give us so much unconditional love and support! We would love to hear how you help dogs in need. Leave us a comment below or tag us in your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts with #benebone.

Being the largest dog shelter in a state comes with its benefits, but also requires a lot of donations, hard workers and extraordinary volunteers. That’s exactly what we found when we visited the Maryland SPCA, “MD SPCA”, located in Baltimore, Maryland. The MD SPCA currently adopts out an average of 3,500 dogs and cats per year throughout the Maryland region and likes to be referred to as an adoption center, as opposed to a shelter. With this being a no-kill adoption center, you can imagine the amount of love, time and effort that is put in by all.

Like most rescue organizations, the MD SPCA relies solely on the donations it receives throughout the year to keep their doors open and running for the dogs and cats throughout Maryland. Director of Communications and Media Relations, Tina Regester, says that all to often, people assume that since the MD SPCA contains the word “Maryland” in their name, that they receive governmental grants and/or funding. In fact, the MD SPCA is a private, non-profit organization and receives no government funding or grants. Another misconception of the MD SPCA is that they are tied to the ASPCA and the infamous “Sarah McLachlan commercials”. While the ASPCA is another great organization for animals, they are based out of New York and have no connection with the MD SPCA. The MD SPCA receives no money from the ASPCA.

When asked if there was any certain breed of dogs the staff at the MD SPCA sees most often, Nichole Miller, Director of Operations, says that they mostly rescue and adopt out dogs whom they call “Baltimore Big Dogs”, which are larger breeds, usually pitbulls or pit bull mixes. During our visit, we were lucky enough to meet a “Baltimore big dog” named Duke. Despite Duke’s loving and fun personality, he is one of MD SPCA’s longest residing residents having been at the shelter since January.

Wellness Clinic

Photo Credit: MD SPCA

The MD SPCA isn’t your average adoption center. Here, on their premises, the MD SPCA is also home to a Wellness Clinic. This Wellness Clinic completes on average about 7,000 spay and neuter surgeries a year, making it the state leader in spay and neuters. The MD SPCA provides this crucial service to not only the pets it rescues and adopts out, but also to other rescue organizations around the region, low income pet parents and feral cats within the community. And, if performing thousands of surgeries a year wasn’t enough, the MD SPCA Wellness Clinic also opens its doors to the community providing affordable routine wellness exams, vaccinations, microchipping and dental procedures.

The rescue and adoption center itself takes in over 1,000 dogs and cats a year from various nearby shelters in addition to the owner surrenders that are brought into the shelter. At any given time, the MD SPCA can have up to 200 dogs and cats in their care and they wouldn’t be able to house all these homeless pets without the housing and support of their foster care home network.

Foster Care

Photo Credit: MD SPCA

According to Nichole, Director of Operations, the MD SPCA wouldn’t be able to do what it does if it were not for all the foster homes within the community. Approximately, 1,000 dogs and cats are placed within the MD SPCA foster care program throughout the year. Foster parents are the backbone of the MD SPCA, as they are responsible for some of the hardest cases that require the most attention. Foster parents provide temporary care for kittens and puppies under 8 weeks of age, very sick or injured pets, and/or pets that require additional training or socialization. Foster homes provide a quieter and stress-free “shelter” option for pets looking for their forever home.

Once a individual or family has applied and been approved to foster, the MD SPCA provides training, supplies, and 24-hour support for foster families. A foster families only expense is their time. The MD SPCA strives to make it as easy and stress-free for foster families as possible.

Volunteers

Like many other shelters and rescues, the MD SPCA heavily relies on the kindness of their volunteers time and energy to help with the daily caretaking of the dogs and cats in need. Volunteering at the MD SPCA goes above and beyond cleaning crates and runs for the pets. Volunteers are trained how to properly handle dogs and cats at all levels.

Along with meeting the pitbull rescue, Duke, another highlight of our visit to the MD SPCA was meeting volunteer, Evan. When Evan came into the room to meet us, he immediately pulled out a can of treats that he carries around in his pocket before he sat down. That right there is a sign of a dedicated volunteer. Evan explained that while he has a Master’s Degree and had a career job at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, he wasn’t enjoying the 9-5 corporate life. After doing some self reflection, Evan decided to leave his job to pursue veterinary school. Last April, Evan began volunteering at the MD SPCA. Since the MD SPCA has a busy spay and neuter clinic and Evan wanted to attend veterinary school, he thought starting his volunteer services there would be the perfect fit and started as an exam room helper.

After a while, Evan decided to make the transition to becoming a dog walker volunteer after seeing the lack of tier 3 dog walkers that were available. If there are not many qualified tier 3 dog walkers, the tier 3 dogs do not get nearly as many walks, which was disheartening to Evan.

At the MD SPCA, dog walkers are identified by 3 tiers. Each tier is achieved after hours of training, which includes behavioral training, leash walking and safety procedures. Tier 1 is your entry level dog walker and while you still receive training, the tier 1 dog walkers will walk the calmest dogs that have a working knowledge of leash walking etiquette. After 12 hours of work and training, a dog walker can be promoted to a tier 2 dog walker. As a dog walker goes higher in tiers so does the “aggressiveness” of the dog they are walking. Currently, Evan is 1 of only a few tier 3 dog walkers, as tier 3 dog walkers are required to have 70 hours of training and are responsible for walking the most difficult dogs in the adoption center. Evan’s theory is that he looks to turn every moment for a level 3 dog into a teachable moment. Any shelter would be lucky to have Evan on their volunteer roster!

Ways YOU Can Help Too!

Like most non-profits, the MD SPCA’s most requested item is monetary donations! The MD SPCA relies on individual and corporate donations of all amounts. No donation is “too small”. All donations can be made directly through the MD SPCA website. There, you can make a one-time donation or recurring monthly donations in any denomination amount. The MD SPCA also has a Amazon Wish List to make giving easy and accessible for all.

If you live within the Baltimore/Washington D.C. or neighboring region, please consider attending the MD SPCA Festival for the Animals on May 5, 2018. This is by far the MD SPCA’s biggest fundraiser and they depend on every dollar raised to help them continue their rescue efforts throughout the year. You can register as an individual or form a pack with family and friends. This festival is different than years past in that this year it is a day long festival packed with contests, food trucks, beer gardens, live music, vendors and more.

And, of course, adopting your next best friend from the MD SPCA is always welcomed and appreciated! You can find a list of adoptable dogs and cats on their website or through their Petfinder page. And be sure to follow the MD SPCA’s Instagram and Facebook accounts to learn more about their adoptable dogs as they become available for adoption. You can also see all the wonderful dogs that find their forever homes!

Photo Credit: MD SPCA Instagram