Too often we hear “If I won the lottery, I’d help all the dogs!” We get it, if I won the lottery, I’d be like Oprah “You get a spay/neuter van! YOU get a spay/neuter van! Everyone gets a spay/neuter van!!!” and they’d all cheer, and everyone could spay and neuter and rescues organizations would no longer be a need. It’s a dream, for sure!!!
However, the chances of me winning Oprah type money is low (or so they say). So, in the meantime, I volunteer in other ways; I foster, screen candidates, help with transportation and even help the social media team. There are a ton of ways people can help out while waiting for their lottery win to happen! And before you say “But, I can’t because of…..” read on. I have yet to see any limits on how anyone can help. Rescues rely on volunteers and the needs are endless!
Do you have a car? There are organizations (like Critter Cabs) that need drivers to get animals from point A to point B. In the case of DIBS, the rescue I volunteer for, we have a foster mom in Kingston. Critter Cabs has helped to take dogs from a volunteer in the GTA and deliver the pup to her foster mom. They help so many animals (recently saw a post that 3 snakes needed transport!!!) move from shelters, vet appointments, to foster homes, etc.
Do you like to socialize face to face? We would love help at DIBS events. We are hoping to expand our reach with events in other cities and we need people to represent us!
Or, do you prefer roles from the comfort of your home? Rescues need volunteers to help with many home-based roles. Phone screens, social media support, or other behind the scenes roles. If you have a rescue group that you follow and want to help, they can likely put you to work! Recently a rescue named Dog Tales asked for help to call local officials to raise awareness on a terrible issue. Volunteers jumped in, calls were made, the press got involved and animal lives were saved – all with the help of volunteers.
Or, are you even more shy than that, and prefer to not have to speak to strangers? No problem! You have probably noticed that many rescues hold online fundraising auctions. Where do those auction items come from? They are sourced by amazing volunteers that reach out (phone, email, Facebook messenger) to local businesses and ask for support!
Do you want a dog, but it doesn’t fit into your budget or schedule? Perfect – foster for a rescue in need! I have yet to hear of any geographic barriers for fosters (there may be some, but I haven’t heard of one yet). We hear of so many rescues and shelters needing help, and the lack of fosters is the common barrier to being able to save more dogs. There are some amazing rescues that take in seniors and have needs for dogs in palliative care: in these situations, the rescue pays for vetting and supplies for the duration of the dog’s life. All you have to do is love the animal and give him/her the best days of their life. If you travel a lot, pick a rescue org that has shorter foster times. With DIBS, foster time-frames may last 2-4 weeks (sometimes more, sometimes less). We cover all bases with fostering – funds, support, applications, etc – the only thing that is required is time and love. Knowing that all things are covered, the main objection we hear is “I can’t foster, I may fall in love and it will hurt to give them up”. The reality is that every single foster parent falls in love with their foster dogs. When they go, we cry (a lot). Knowing we have given them a better chance at life does help our hearts heal. And, as much as it hurts our hearts to let them go, it beats the alternative of them dying without our support. Every foster parent knows, our pain is nothing compared to theirs.
Want to get in shape? Great – check-in with your local shelter and ask if you can walk the dogs. Some dogs never get out. (If I see a person walking in my neighbourhood, my inside voice screams….why aren’t you walking a dog!!!)
Do you have a special skill? If you are a photographer, rescue orgs would love your help! If you are a baker, great help with events! Love to knit – super!!! we need stuff!
Do you go on lots of vacations? There is a good chance that a rescue org can use your help with dog transport. Reach out to rescues that you follow and if they can’t use your help, they can likely refer you to one that can.
Whoever you are, whatever you can do…please do it! Reach out to your local rescue and ask how you can help! DIBS Rescue has a list of things you can help with. Many of these roles may be universal, so ask with your preferred shelter/rescue.
The number of street dogs that get rescued is small (like single digits small). The ones that get off the street and get into forever homes are the true lottery winners. The only thing keeping them from winning the lottery is us, the volunteers, who work together to make the world a better place. While our chances of winning the lottery may be 1:millions, we do have control over giving better odds to the animals that are waiting on their lucky day.
Honestly, we hope that you do win big! Animals are in need. But, please don’t wait for that day…