Canine Chronicle,  Holistic Wellness

How You Can Help Animals Without Adopting

I want to help animals but I can’t adopt

There are many ways to help animals, whether or not adoption is right for you.  Not all of us can or want to adopt a shelter or rescue animal. You may have the best of intentions but something is getting in your way: finances, allergies, time, or perhaps all of the above. There are other ways that you can contribute to the wellbeing of rescue animals.


Help Animals without Adoption

I am the lucky “fur mom” of two rescue dogs. The best thing we ever did was to save those two beautiful souls. I even convinced my husband rescue should be our only route. He grew up with purebred dogs from reputable breeders. Nothing wrong with that. For those of you who want purebred dogs, go for it. Just please do your research, visit the breeder, and see the facilities. Sadly though, there are so many animals in need of “furever” homes throughout the world, and I wanted to do my small part to help.

1. Donate Supplies

Rescue organizations are non-profit and rely on donations. Fundraisers are held throughout the year, and money is in high demand. But not all donations have to be monetary. Kindness for Homeless Paws, where I adopted Beau, often will request donations of food and toys for their dogs and horses awaiting adoption.

Contact your local shelter, rescue, or sanctuary and ask what supplies they are lacking. If you do not want to provide them, organize a local supply drive. Help them create an Amazon Wish List and then promote it on social media and throughout your local community.

2. Volunteer Your Time

Most rescue organizations can’t afford to keep the amount of staff they need, and rely heavily on volunteers. Volunteers are the life’s blood of these non-profits. Without them they would not be able to function.

If you are looking for a way to help- volunteer.  Walk the dogs, play with the cats, or muck horse stalls. These business also need volunteers who don’t interact with the animals such as manning a table at a local street fair or pet expo. Raise awareness by helping with their website or offering to find sponsors for their next event. The possibilities are limitless.

3. Become a Foster Home

Shelters are overcrowded and these animals are in need of socialization, love, and some “normality”. In the southern US, where I adopted both Beau and Gonzo, the shelters are so full that they euthanize them. Foster homes and rescue groups take as many animals as they can to prevent their death. Often they will ship them north to other shelters with a “no-kill” policy. Provide a temporary home for an animal in need. Animals who are fostered have a greater chance of being adopted. You won’t regret it.

4. Contribute to Medical Expenses

Some rescue animals come from homes where they have been seriously neglected or injured. Other animals were surrendered because their owners could not afford medical costs. Medical expenses can be quite significant.


Sponsor an animal and contribute to medical costs. Start a Go Fund Me. Check with your local veterinarian or donate to a non-profit group like The Brodie Fund. The Brodie Fund is a registered 501c3 that provides grants to families in need of financial assistance.  Radiation, chemotherapy, surgery and hospice care become possible for their pets, where they would not have been able to otherwise pay for treatment.

5. Educate Others

It still amazes me that owners do not neuter or spray their animals when they do not intend to breed them. This is the easiest way to reduce the amount of homeless pets. I have neighbors who recently bought their first dog. They bought it from a pet store, and surprise- it became sick and died after only a few days. That pet store got their “stock” from a puppy mill. Tragic and yet completely avoidable if only they had done a little research. Likewise there are horse breeders that churn out foals like a baby factory. I am NOT referring to legitimate breeders for both dogs and horses. I am referring to those who stay outside the boundaries of ethical behavior.

Find a way to spread knowledge. If you know someone looking for a dog or horse, steer them in the right direction. Get the word out to others, become an advocate for informed pet guardianship.

6. Think Outside the Box

After college I was living in New York and had very little money. I did, however, have a hobby trying to teach myself crochet. I was not awesome. But I found a group on Craig’s List that provided crocheted and knitted blankets to shelter animals. Something that those dogs or cats could snuggle with and find comfort in. I probably made 50 small blankets to the organization. It was good practice and I was making a difference, providing comfort to these animals.

Now, I’m not saying go out and crochet a million blankets. But think outside the box. What are your strengths? What can you offer that will make a difference?


What Now?

Contact your local rescue organization today. These organizations depend heavily on volunteers who love animals and want to help in a variety of ways. There are so many animals that are in need of loving, forever homes. Adoption is a big way to help, but not the only one.

New Jersey Organizations:

Associate Humane Society of Tinton Falls

Recycled Racehorses

Horse Rescue United, Inc.

Monmouth Country SPCA

Animal Alliance NJ

State of New Jersey Equine Rescue Directory


National Organizations:



Equus Foundation

American Horse Rescue Network



  • Chelle

    I wrote a post on this same topic awhile back. There is so much you can do to help shelter animals besides adopting, which is awesome. I’m pretty much as maximum capacity as far as pets go, at least until we get a bigger place, but I volunteer whenever I can and donate quite often. As an aside – small world, I don’t think we’re that far from each other. My pack and I are just outside of NYC.

    • Heather Wallace

      That’s awesome! I’m based in Monmouth County, NJ. Very close to NYC. I will have to read your post! I know a lot of people that love animals but cannot have them for various reasons. So I wanted to reveal a few ways they can help. It is just about adoption, or at least it should not stop there.

  • Kelly

    What a fantastic list of suggestions for helping other pets in need! As much as we would love to adopt each and every pet that needs a home, we must be realistic. There are so many opportunities and ways we can help these animals.

  • Lori Hilliard

    While we don’t have room for more animals right now, we visit our local humane society and donate our old towels, beach towels, etc. a few times a year. Many shelters and humane societies have a list of their needs posted right on their website. If they are caring for pets with special dietary needs, etc., they are thrilled with donations of the right products.

  • Debbie Bailey

    These are some great ideas! There really is a way for everyone to help, regardless of circumstance or financial situation. I love the crochet idea! That’s so cute. One easy thing that I love to recommend that is always needed is helping with transport. Transporting dogs or cats from kill shelters to rescues, rescues to the vet, or to their forever homes. It is a short time commitment and you can do it on your own schedule. Love this post

    • Heather Wallace

      Transport is a great suggestion! Beau came from transport all the way from Kentucky/ Tennessee border to New Jersey and we were so grateful. We did of course chip if for gas and thanks but it was so worth it.

  • Luna | Mother of Rescues

    This is such an important articles! People often say to me “oh I’d love to help but I can’t have a dog in this apartment” or “I can’t afford to care for another dog” and I always think of a million other ways they could help, if only they were willing to take action. Your article is a beautiful example of how everybody can help. Thank you for writing it, I will pin it to Pinterest!

  • Hindy Pearson

    I’m glad you’ve written about this topic because I think many people believe the only way to help is by adopting. There are so many easy ways to help animals, you don’t even have to leave the house. A quick signature and comment on a petition is the simplest thing you can do, yet that one signature added to another can absolutely change lives.

  • yaydogblog

    I have done several of the things listed here and written about a few of them. I am a dog trainer and I take a couple of dog books, a package of treats or poop bags and package in a cellophane bag from the gift supply store, dress it up with my colors and card and donate to local rescue groups for their events. (I get the books from thrift stores, maybe one “how to” title with modern methods and one memoir.) These have become popular and I hear that the rescues love it. I get referrals from several rescues from this win-win. Loved the article, thanks so much!!
    I am also a horse person and am interested in that intersection of dog and horse person.

    • Heather Wallace

      What a cute idea to do little gift bags! We do donate our time doing massage on therapeutic riding horses and have been trying to contact local shelters to offer our help, especially for timid or senior dogs. Love that you are a horse person as well!

  • Ruth Epstein

    I think I speak 90 percent of my time about this and help wherever possible. This is the reason I also set up my auction site so that rescue organizations could hold on line auctions for free which would help them keep going. As for foster, I would love to but live in a building where the pet deposits are ridiculous plus my studio is just too small.

    • Heather Wallace

      Yes, Ruth you do so much for rescue organizations and I know it makes a big difference! It’s hard when our homes are small or our landlords will not allow additional pets. I hope my readers visit your site as a way to help.

  • Pawsitively Intrepid

    This is a great list of ways to help without actually adopting. So many organizations can really benefit from more people volunteering, donating money, etc. I have done a fair amount of fostering this year, as I know that I can not permanently keep adding more and more pets to my household. Cats are so easy to foster if you have a spare room in your house.

    • Heather Wallace

      Good point about cats. I would love to foster or adopt a cat but one of my dogs has a rather strong hunting drive (poor baby bunnies), so I’m afraid a cat is out of the question at this point. But I do try to help in other ways. Both my dogs are adopting but that doesn’t mean I should stop there.

  • Cathy Armato

    These are wonderful ideas, Heather! Shelters have so much need for so many things. I love that you made blankets for shelter pets, that is the sweetest thing! Even if you have your heart set on a specific breed of dog, there’s a rescue for nearly every breed of dog, just search online. Lots of breed specific rescues have purebreds, they just don’t usually have “papers”, which personally never meant anything to me.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • Heather Wallace

      You are so correct. I’ve been talking to friends who want a specific breed and trying to direct them to breed-specific rescue. Geography also should not be a limitation, with the potential for transport. Gonzo is from NC and Beau is from Kentucky/ Tenn. I did pick my boys because they were mutts though as I like big mutts and I cannot lie.

  • Allison

    When I first tried to volunteer with animal welfare groups, I found that most groups gave me two choices: adopt/foster or fundraise/donate. I was fortunate to eventually land a spot with a group that wanted me to blog, but I never forgot my experience. A good number of my posts highlight all the unique and varied ways that people can volunteer. I’m all about encouraging people to think outside the box when it comes to animal welfare. Thank you for this post!

    • Heather Wallace

      I will definitely visit your site and learn more. I think often the coordinators have a set amount of expectations and don’t realize the potential they have in front of them when they think so narrowly.

  • Enviro_Dog

    Great ideas, especially the blankets! I too had a store bought puppy that died within a week from distemper. That was twenty five years ago now, before there were many rescue groups. I have been putting off contacting our local shelter since I don’t have much free time–but that’s not a good excuse. Your post will motivate me to do it!

    • Heather Wallace

      So happy to motivate you! Store puppies are cute but so often end in disaster or perpetuate the puppy mill problem. NJ passed a state law recently that all new pet stores could not sell puppies from breeders, only puppies from shelters. NJ isn’t perfect but I’m pretty proud of this one!

  • Beth (@dailydogtag)

    Adoption is great, but there are limits as to how many pets we can have at a time! I have three dogs and a cat, so I try to help other animals by volunteering, donating, and sharing them on social media.

  • TheRufusFiles

    Absolutely! There are so many organizations you can volunteer with. Be aware too that a group can have the best of intentions and not really have its act together. There is nothing wrong with wishing them well and moving along if you find that they can never remember you OR if they remember you a little too often and always ask for your time. And I love that you crocheted for shelter animals! There is a pit bull rescue group that needs snoods knitted (or crocheted, I suppose) for dogs whose ears have been cropped! Everyone has something to give, if they want.

    • Heather Wallace

      I would love to see photos of pitbulls in snoods. That’s a calendar for breed legislation if I ever heard one… project? And yes, great point about not all organizations being a good fit. So important to note.

  • shaylao2010

    Great ideas! I think people get stuck on the idea that they have to take everyone home, and in reality, most of us really can’t, or shouldn’t be doing that! I mean, how many hoarding cases end up being bleeding hearts that just couldn’t stand to see abandoned animals?!? There are so many great places to volunteer, but this is an awesome list of ideas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.