Volunteer with Your Pet!
Being a pet owner is a great reward in itself. This is no secret among those who count animals as their close companions, as several of us here on The Environmental Blog know very well. A pet animal provides priceless hours of fun, companionship, training in responsibility, interest, and an invaluable connection to nature as well as to people.
An interesting article from Huffington Post Green shares one more surprising benefit: being able to do a good turn through volunteering with our pets.
We’ve heard of studies showing that pet owners tend to be happier and healthier. Pet owners are also likely to be more eco-friendly, which is not hard to believe and HP Green gave some interesting ideas on how our pets can join in the act.
Animal Blood Donation – HP Green mentions human blood donation as one well-known form of giving that can make the difference between life and death. It turns out that like people, animals also need blood transfusions in medical emergencies. However, there are only a few national animal blood banks available with limited supply. Check with your local vet for animal blood banks that you can donate to, and also if your to find if your pet is eligible to fill a blood transfusion need. There are health requirements to meet before your pet can be considered as a blood donor, both for his safety and the recipient animal’s.
Volunteer in Animal Assisted Therapies – Share with others the warmth and companionship you enjoy with your pet by volunteering in an animal assisted therapy program. Cats, dogs, birds, and even horses are part of animal assisted therapies in different settings around the world. They can be found in hospitals, mental and psychiatric institutions, nursing homes, and prisons. Long before the health benefits of animal and human bonding were being backed by scientific research, people have recognized that there is something therapeutic in caring for animals. There are no set rules saying that only furry cats and dogs can participate either: cockatoos, bearded dragons, and llamas have been known to be part of these programs. At any rate, better check with animal-assisted therapy organizations first before you bring out the exotic ones.
Take Your Pet to Work Day – It would be great if Take Your Pet to Work Days are held to show off your darling pet’s endearing qualities -and incidentally, to show what a great pet owner you are and these activities are actually an opportunity for a higher purpose: to increase awareness about animal adoption. Companies and organizations also sponsor these events to raise funds for animal adoption programs. Check out TakeYourDog.com’s programs for more information and ideas.
Be A Foster Parent to an Animal in Need – This suggestion intrigued me, though in all honesty the first thing that came up in my mind were visions of feline territory fights. HubPages’ article on the subject gave several convincing reasons however, as it is animals in need that will benefit from a pet foster home. Sick and injured pets may need comfortable and quiet places for their recovery before they are put up for adoption. Potential pet adopters naturally prefer a healthy looking animal than an ill animal, though it is recovering. Young pets also need extra TLC that busy shelters may be unable to provide at the moment. Friendly foster homes are also very important for neglected and abused animals that have developed distrust towards humans through their past experiences. The best way for them to learn that not all humans are abusive may be through that one person who will act as a foster parent to them before they are adopted.
Sign Up for Search-and-Rescue Operations – The saying “Dogs are man’s best friend” is well known, and not without good reason. Dogs have been hunting companions, guardians, and rescuers since ancient times. Canines have been trained to detect everything from concealed illegal drugs at borders to evidences at crime scenes, even bombs and explosives. Search and rescue dogs are as much heroes as the people who train them and work with them. There have been times when disaster victims have been located by a search and rescue canine when all other means of finding them have failed. If you know you and your dog are up to this task as a team, contact your local search and rescue training program coordinators. For pet owners in the US, check American Rescue Dog Association and the National Association for Search and Rescue for more information. P. S. HP Green adds that these three are the best “hero-breeds”: German shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Border Collies.
Sign Up for a Walk / Race for Charity: I have to admit that, like the previous suggestion, there are things that only dogs can do. Though I’d never trade my kitty for for any breed of hyper cute puppy you’d offer me, I really can’t imagine my cat trotting happily in line with other cats and dogs in a walk/race for charity event. He’d probably assert his alpha male status on tortoiseshells and terriers alike, with potentially tragic consequences for the intervening owner.
Still, I think this is one of the best ways for pet owners to volunteer together with their pets. Not every canine can sign up for search and rescue training, but most dogs can participate in a walk /race event with their owners. Contact your local pet owners organizations to see if they have an upcoming walk / race event for charity. If they don’t, why not start one in your community and make a difference?
Volunteering with pet animals is one way to give back to the community and the environment with what you already have. Then again, it’s one more way to remind ourselves and others that we share this planet with all living creatures, and no small act – whether beneficial or harmful – is insignificant.
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