More ways to help a shelter animal than simply adopting

Sharon Langford doesn't want to focus as much on the overly-publicized crisis facing animal shelters today as she does on the joy that the loving animals housed there can bring to people's lives.What's more, she's willing to put her money where her mouth is when it comes to letting people know what they are missing by not having a pet in their lives. Langford, author of "Living with the Rescues - Life Lessons and Inspirations" -- a love letter to the pets she's had in her life -- is donating all the proceeds of her books sales to animal rescue charities. But she also knows that not everyone who wants to help these pets can dedicate the same time and effort as she can, so Langford also offers tips on how all animal lovers can help, without having to write a book to do it. "Just as a pet can make an incredible difference in someone's life, so can one person make a difference in the lives of pets waiting for adoption," she said. "If we can each do something small, in our own ways, together we can help bring these animals together with owners so they can enrich each others' lives." Langford offered the following "Rescue Tips" to people who want to help these loving, caring animals: Volunteer -- Many people think that volunteering at a shelter is too time consuming, but the truth is that most shelters are happy to get any kind of help, even if it's an hour or two each week. Further, if you can't volunteer at a shelter, most communities have a variety of rescue groups that meet regularly, and they are organized based on specific interests (older dogs, cats, exotic pets, disabled pets, rescued greyhounds, etc.). You can volunteer in a wide variety of ways, without it taking up all your free time. Foster -- Many shelters have foster programs in which a rescued animal is placed in a home temporarily until a suitable long-term home can be found. For those households that can't support a pet long-term, fostering one from a shelter can help alleviate overcrowding while also acclimating a rescued animal to a household setting until their new masters come along. It's a great way to help without the lifelong commitment. Sponsor -- If you can't house a pet because of your lease restrictions or allergies, but you hate to see these rescued animals suffer, you can always sponsor a pet. Many shelters will allow you to help pay for the regular costs of feeding and caring for a pet. Because most of these services are offered to these animals from shelter staff, it can be very inexpensive to sponsor a pet, but believe me, the shelter appreciates every little bit to help with their overhead. The more sponsors they have, the more pets they can keep for a longer period of time. Supply -- If, like many Americans, you don't have the budget that allows you to foster or sponsor, then maybe you can help with supplies. Call your local shelter and ask them what supplies they need regularly, or might be short on -- food, collars, brushes, shampoo, treats. Then, next time you're at the grocery store, add a bag of food to your cart, or some healthy treats recommended by the shelter. With this tactic, you can help out of often as you can, without it being a regular commitment. The shelter will be deeply appreciative of the extra supplies. "I loved my Daisy, who was a shelter dog, and one of the best friends and companions anyone could ask for," she said. "If my book and my campaign can help even a few more shelter animals provide that kind of joy for other families, then it will all be worth it. But, I am hoping we can accomplish much more than that." Sharon Langford been involved with the Elephant Sanctuary since its inception, as well as being a volunteer for the Nashville Humane Association and active fundraiser for the cause of animal shelters.

********** Published: September 2, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 20