All of us who care have a role to play when it comes to helping make life kinder for homeless and abandoned animals. Remember, every little helps! Dame Anita Roddick, of British cosmetics company The Body Shop, famously (and quite brilliantly) once said “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room!” I’ll leave that powerful metaphor with you for a moment.
There’s always a reason to think it’s simply not possible to pitch in. Life is busy. People are working longer hours than previous generations had, so free time and energy is limited. Not everyone has spare cash to donate (although, foregoing your daily coffee or cupcake indulgence occasionally can help!)
It can often feel overwhelming and bewildering to even know where to begin. That’s why I thought it would be helpful to put together some suggestions based on Matt’s and my own experience of trying to make a difference!
The process of adopting Bunny crystallized for us a few things we already knew but hadn’t spent enough time thinking about. The first is that most shelters are entirely run by compassionate volunteers who give their time and hearts to helping animals find loving families and homes, and that most of these shelters exist thanks to supporter donations. The second is the world would be a much darker place if these organizations and communities of amazing people didn’t step up for homeless animals. Thirdly, we shouldn’t just assume they’ve “got it” and our contribution won’t matter. We can all find a way to help. The phrase “it takes a village” absolutely applies here.
The challenges facing shelters across the U.S.—and in every country— are huge. They often struggle to keep up with the number of animals they care for. Animals are too often considered property rather than beings who can experience a range of emotions including pain and joy.
This leads to them being easily abandoned, abused, and worse or sometimes, their guardian may fall on hard times and have no choice but to surrender them to a shelter. The circumstances in which an animal may find themself homeless or abandoned are endless.
Yet, all of us who are guardians to companion animals know their value and the joy of having them in our lives. They deserve a loving home free from harm, just like the rest of us!
For us, a contribution meant creating something that would last, something that would raise funds and awareness. It could be small, but with hard work and tenacity, it might have the potential to become a global success capable of raising unlimited funds for shelter and animal advocacy. That’s our dream and what led us to create the Hello, My Name is Bunny! chapter book series for kids aged six and older, and cat lovers of every age.
To date, Bunny’s whacky adventures have taken her to New York City, London, and Paris, with a new adventure on the way later this year. Each book is designed to entertain and inspire kids with lessons of kindness, empathy, and perseverance. And we donate $2 for every book sold on our website to KittyKind NYC, the group we adopted our adored Bunny from! We have a long way to go before we fully realize our dream, but we’re dedicated to it.
While not everyone can write a book (or three!), there are a few other ways to help which, honestly, most people—no matter how time-or-cash-crunched—can do. We hope these insights are helpful!
So here goes:
Adopt or foster
This is obvious so I won’t spend much time on this one! A wise person once said, “You can’t change an animal’s past but you can rewrite their future.” We all have the power to do this. And if adoption isn’t an option, fostering is an enormous help for any shelter, particularly during kitten season (s).
When you see a post about an animal who needs adopting, fostering, or rescuing, you might not be able to donate or step in yourself, but you probably have a valuable network of friends and family. Share that post on your social media channels. Not only may it reach someone who can help but, by sharing, the social media algorithms will see the content as more valuable and will share it more widely.
This can take many forms. Think about your skills and interests and how you might apply them to an organization you want to support. Maybe you love dogs but can’t have a dog right now. Why not volunteer as a dog walker at a shelter? Maybe you like to get your hands dirty. Shelters always need help cleaning cages, litter boxes, food bowls etc! If you’re a social media genius, see if your favorite shelter needs some help growing their channels. If you’re a marketing or PR expert, help organize a fundraiser for them.
There’s no denying it, money is always helpful! But many shelters will also appreciate unopened, good quality food, litter, and clean blankets to help with in the day-to-day needs. It’s always a good idea to check first before dropping off 100 cans of cat food, though!
We recently worked with one of our wonderful local shelters—the Animal Rescue Foundation, Beacon—to help at their 5K Run & Walk with the Dogs. Not only was it an amazing day, it was SO much fun. Organizers often need event stewards, event admins, and support teams to make the event a success and will gratefully welcome volunteers to help them. (Did I mention it takes a village?)
So, there you have it. Hopefully, this provides some food for thought for those who want to help but don’t know where to begin. The good news is once you dive in, one thing leads to another and before you know it, you’ve made a contribution you can feel good about. The beautiful thing is that good intentions and actions have a habit of multiplying and rewarding you as well as helping others. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
I’m sure there’s many more ways to help we haven’t thought of. If there’s one you’d recommend, please leave a comment below and let us know! We’d love to spread the word.
The Hello, My Name is Bunny! chapter book series is available here.
Shelley Simmons-Bloom (June 2023)