Impact Your World

7 ways to make an impact on homeless pets

Story highlights

About 2.4 million healthy adoptable cats and dogs are put down in U.S. shelters each year

Shelters, animal rescue groups and the Humane Society need donations, volunteers and supplies

CNN  — 

If Jessica Van Kirk had her way, she would just adopt them all. That is her first instinct when those puppy eyes look up to her at the local Humane Society. However, her house is already filled to dog capacity, even if her husband would agree to “just one more.”

Pet adoptions are needed at shelters across the United States as overcrowding limits the number of animals they can care for and for how long. The Humane Society says that about one healthy, adoptable cat or dog is put down in U.S. shelters every 13 seconds.

For Jessica, the best way to help is by offering her skills as a professional photographer. She could see that the quickly snapped mobile photos were just not showing how adorable, and even more so, how adoptable these dogs are. So Jessica provides photo shoots where each dog can strut its stuff.

Many pet facilities welcome photographers to come take pet adoption pictures, and these tips will help create great photos. If photography is not your thing, here are more ways you can help pets find a home:

Foster a pet

Providing a temporary home until they are adopted does more than just help socialize the pet and get them accustomed to a home environment. This also frees up a space for another stray to be cared for at the shelter, Humane Society or the pet rescue group you are helping. Many facilities will provide all the food and vet care that you would need. All you need to add is love and a few walks a day.

How to foster dogs and cats


One of the best ways to help at your local shelter or rescue facility is by just spending time with the animals. It makes such a difference for them to receive love and attention, and this helps them become more comfortable being around people, which will help the impression they will make with those looking to adopt.

How and where to volunteer

Help at adoption events

Volunteers are always needed at pet adoption events. By having others there to handle the crowd, sign-ins and paperwork, those that care for the animals are then available to show the pets for adoption, answer questions and make sure the introductions go smoothly. Making these events a good experience for everyone in attendance will set the best scene for a pet to be adopted.

Pet adoption events that need help

Donate supplies

Reach out to your local animal shelter and rescue group to donate pet food, litter, chew and play toys, gently used towels and other supplies. By helping out with this expenses, their budget can go further in providing and caring for more animals.

Animal Humane Society wish list

Share on social media

By liking, sharing and commenting on posts and tweets on adoption events and “pet of the day” pictures, you will increase their exposure on social media sites and the likelihood it will be seen by someone looking to adopt a new furry friend.

How to ‘Twitter a Critter’

Support a rescue group

Animal rescue groups play an essential role in helping pets find homes. Donations help them with their operating cost, veterinary care expenses and adoption events. Many of these groups take animals from shelters, making more space available there.

Find a rescue group near you

Be a responsible owner

Make sure your pets do not add to the problem by keeping their identification tags updated and having your pets spayed or neutered. Of course another way to help ease overcrowding in shelters is by bringing home another four-legged friend to keep your pet company.

More tips on pet ownership