Holiday Checklist to Help Homeless Pets

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Young adult woman working and playing with adorable dog in animal shelter

With the holidays just around the corner, there are still many ways you can help homeless pets find their forever homes. Following are some ideas for taking advantage of this season of giving.

Plan at least one adoption event away from your shelter or rescue, such as a shopping mall, holiday art show, etc. Get organized now and plan where, when, and how you can accomplish this. Many people find shelters upsetting and/or sad and will not visit a shelter to adopt. Make pets available to them at other locations.

Set up an online wish list and link to it from your shelter’s website. See the wish list for Operation Kindness at as an example. Mention your wish list in any holiday ads or articles, including your ads showing specific pets available for adoption. Many people do all their shopping online and may be inclined to donate from a specific list of items that you select.

Plan at least two-holiday events in which the shelter sells tickets for $50 or less. Offer attendees food, a beautifully decorated holiday setting, music, etc. for their donations. I’ve noticed recently that some nonprofits called off events in which they were selling raffle tickets and conducting silent auctions. Perhaps in this economic environment, you’ll have more luck when each donor receives something for a smaller donation. Ask local businesses to donate food for an afternoon open house. Party food or just holiday cookies from locals is great publicity for them. Ask a choral group to sing carols. Every community has a setting for this, such as historical homes, beds, and breakfasts, art galleries, restaurants, etc. You can offer items for sale (keep the cost under $50) made by local artists, school art classes, etc., that would be appealing as holiday gifts. If your shelter has calendars or greeting cards, have those available to sell.

Another twist on this idea would be for each attendee to bring pet food (specify what kind) or some item from your wish list. Or, you could ask volunteers to make holiday cookies and ask attendees to vote on their favorites. Ask your local newspaper to write an article about your event and post the winning recipes.

Do you have a kids’ friends group or kids board of directors for your shelter? If not, organize a group of animal-loving kids to plan kids’ activities for your community. Ask them to develop at least one event during the holiday season involving kids. For example, they could have a contest among classes at school on raising the most money for pets with special medical needs.

Partner with local businesses which send email newsletters to their clients and ask to place an ad requesting donations. Many businesses including financial planners, web hosting firms, and even grocery stores send email updates. Ask to place as many ads as they will allow. Include photos of homeless pets. What I’d really love is to have a forever home for Christmas. But until then, I really need your help. Please donate any amount so the local shelter can continue providing me shelter and food. Link directly to your donation page. This would cost these businesses nothing and would be really great publicity.

Ask your volunteers, board of directors, and members of your friend’s group for help in making contacts for this project. They will probably know personally animal lovers with an email list.

Also see Holiday Adoption and Fundraising Ideas for Homeless Pets on this blog as well as these articles on our website for holiday ideas:

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