If you're an animal lover, there are many ways you can help animals in need, whether domestic ones or wild ones, and you can help directly or indirectly. There may be a rescue centre near you that you're not aware of, as sometimes they're small and run independently, not just by the well-known charities. An internet search will show you what's in your area, or ask around friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. Or look for notices in the vet or pet shop. Even if there isn't a centre conveniently close to you, you could still do something to help from a distance. And although money is very important, there's more to it than that and needn't be as boring as just sending a cheque.
Any charity will tell you that every little helps, so even some small change in a collecting tin will benefit. It all adds up. You may want to give a larger one-off donation, perhaps for a special project that's currently running. Or you could give a regular amount, perhaps by direct debit. Most of the big organisations offer this facility and you can cancel the payment if your circumstances change. Another option is to organise your own fundraising event, however small. Selling some unwanted items at a car boot sale, via a recycling website or on a website like Ebay could raise some funds for you and your favourite charity - you don't have to give away all the proceeds if you don't want to! Even inviting friends and colleagues for an informal coffee morning and charging them a small entry fee could raise a few pounds. If you're feeling energetic and have a desire to do something adventurous, you could go for a sponsored event such as a half marathon or bungee jump. But you need to do your research and training for this, and only do it through a bona fide organised event.
Rescue organisations often have fundraising stalls at events such as fetes and country shows or hold their own events on their premises. As well as raising money, they aim to promote themselves and the work they do. Public support for these events is extremely important so going along, even for a short visit will be much appreciated - better still if you buy something, however small, while you're there. Have a go on the raffle or tombola! The bigger organisations have merchandise for sale through catalogues and websites. Sometimes, they also run competitions and raffles. You may be able to order some raffle tickets to sell among your family and friends, remembering to send the ticket stubs and the cash back to them in time for the draw! Another option is to do your online shopping via a search facility such as easyfundraising.org.uk and donations from the companies you shop with go to a participating charity of your choice.
If your local rescue centre uses the help of volunteers, this could be your chance to get hands-on. Usually, any offered help is gratefully received and you can do as much or as little as you are able. If you're up to it, there may be physically demanding jobs to do such as cleaning the animal accommodation or walking dogs. If you have a special talent such as carpentry, plumbing or electrics you may be able to help with some jobs that they would otherwise have to pay for. Volunteers can also help with organising and running fundraising events - giving out information about the charity and raising public awareness and interest is just as important as shaking a collecting tin and selling raffle tickets. Ring or go along when the centre is open to the public and ask about volunteering opportunities. Some tasks may be reserved for paid employees only (due to liability, health & safety etc) but it depends on the organisation.
There are 2 types of gift you can donate to a rescue centre. Firstly, there are items which can in turn be used to raise funds - raffle and tombola prizes or bric-a-brac to be sold on a stall or at a car boot sale. A good way of getting rid of your unwanted stuff and helping a good cause at the same time. Some charities collect items that they can recycle for cash such as used stamps, old mobile phones, used printer cartridges etc. Maybe your workplace could collect items like these?Then there are the things which are directly for the benefit of the animals - food, bedding, toys, construction materials (for repairing or building new housing). Check with the staff of the rescue centre and find out what they really need. Sometimes they are inundated with certain items and are really short of something else. They may be able to make use of something which would otherwise be thrown away such as old towels and bed linen or shredded paper. I know of a dog rescue centre that would collect cardboard tubes and clean, used plastic bottles and turn them into dog toys by putting food treats in them.
Many organisations offer this option - from the big international charities to local shelters. You are asked to pay a fixed monthly amount and in return you get pictures of and information about your chosen animal and maybe even the chance to visit (not applicable if you choose to sponsor a wild animal in somewhere like the Amazon Rainforest!) This is for animals that are not domestic pets or those who cannot live in a home environment, perhaps due to health or behaviour problems.
The ultimate way to help an animal to get out of a rescue centre. Fostering is a temporary arrangement and can be a very useful stepping stone for an animal that finds the rescue centre environment difficult to cope with. The foster parent can help them adapt to the home situation and this can be passed on to the permanent owner when the time comes. Therefore, a fosterer is usually (but not always) required to have some knowledge of the type of animal in question and may need to be prepared to deal with some initial difficulties during the settling-in process. Fostering also allows a rescue organisation to help more animals - space in rescue centres is at a premium so having some animals in foster homes frees up valuable space in the centre itself. See the item: Could You Foster A Pet.Adopting a rescue animal and giving it a permanent home is very satisfying. Not all animals need rescuing because there is something wrong with them, there are many reasons why animals need rehoming. Out there somewhere is the pet for you that will suit your family and lifestyle - use the expert advice and guidance of the rescue centre staff. No matter how good the care in a rescue centre or foster home, what all domestic animals really need is a permanent home where they will have love and care for the rest of their life.For further information, there are numerous articles on the Pets4Homes website about adopting animals, as well as advice on caring for different types of animals, if you're thinking of getting an animal you haven't had before.