By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 06/14/2021, edited: 06/14/2021
Today kicks off Animal Rights Awareness Week! This holiday is held annually during the third week of June. Looking for ways to support our furry, scaly, and wooly friends not just this week, but all year long? We've sniffed out a few charitable activities that every animal lover can try.
National charities get a lot of attention, but supporting local initiatives is essential for making a change you can see. Your hometown and state are within your greatest sphere of influence. When you support a local shelter or non-profit, your time, money, and effort will go a lot farther.
If you donate to a local shelter, you won't have to question whether your donations are spent responsibly. If you volunteer, you can see firsthand how animal cruelty, abandonment, and overpopulation affect your community. If you follow shelters and organizations and share their posts on social media, you and your network can stay updated on important issues close to home.
Check out Adopt-a-Pet's Find a Shelter tool to locate a shelter to support in your area. Considering donating to a national organization? Look it up on Charity Navigator to find out how your donations are spent.
We've all seen (and teared up at) the Sarah McLachlan commercial for the ASCPA. More recently, we've seen animal shelters close their doors to countless animals due to COVID-19.
Tragedy not only inspires us to act, but it also triggers our survival mode. While staying aware of current events is important, our brains can't handle a 24/7 onslaught of bad news. (And there sure is a lot of it in this socially distanced yet digitally connected world we're living in.)
Be a "pawsitive" force this Animal Rights Awareness Week by sharing some animal rights success stories with your friends and family. After the year we've had, we could all use some good cheer.
Not sure where to start? We shared 3 heartwarming stories earlier today that are sure to restore your faith in humanity.
We know this sounds counterintuitive to the tip above. After all, there's a lot of horrifying and downright depressing content out there on animal rights. The last thing you want to do on a Saturday night is sit down and watch a documentary on the meat industry. (And you know what? That's okay.)
So if you want to learn more about animal rights, we encourage you to start small. Sure, it's important to push the boundaries of your comfort zone. But overwhelm can lead to inaction.
Not sure where to begin your self-education? Stay local. Start by subscribing to the newsletters of local animal shelters and organizations or following their social media pages. Brush up on animal rights laws and policies in your area. Discuss your findings with your friends and family members to start a conversation.
Above all, stay curious. If you're not sure whether something is true or trustworthy, keep asking questions and digging deeper.
Not everyone is able to foster a pet in need. But if you're in a position to welcome a pet into your home temporarily, we hope you'll consider it! Every year, more than 2 million animals are euthanized due to overcrowding in shelters that don't have the resources to care for them. Fostering gives animals a safe place to stay while waiting for their "furever" home.
If you're planning to welcome a pet into your home permanently, adopt, don't shop. Recent reports found that some USDA-licensed dog breeding facilities are circumventing animal protection laws. Plus, many animals bought from pet stores develop serious health problems due to neglect and mistreatment.
Related: 4 Reasons to Adopt a Rescue Pup
Want to encourage your community to get involved while having fun at the same time? Host your own fundraiser! Use your existing skills (or learn some new ones) to raise money for a good cause. You can sell goods or services, or you can host an event and charge a small fee for entry or food/drinks. Whatever you do, spread the word far and wide, and encourage your friends and family members to do the same.
Before announcing your fundraiser, check these tasks off your to-do list:
Contact the organization or shelter to ensure individual fundraising is allowed. You may need to abide by certain policies.
Find out what the organization needs. Most animal shelters have a wish list.
Ask how donations are spent. Transparency is key for securing donations.
Get the right permits. If you're planning to set up a stand to sell something, you may need to get a permit from your local government.
Set a financial goal for your fundraiser. This will encourage more people to participate.
Here are a few fundraising ideas to get you started:
Whip up some sweet treats for a bake sale — or better yet, a dog treat sale!
Donate the proceeds from your arts and crafts business to your local animal rights org.
Host a pet photo shoot to support a good cause and get some new photography clients.
Invite your neighbors to a tie-dye party.
Challenge your friends to a fun cook-off.
The "pawssibilities" are endless — just make sure whatever event you plan to host is cool with the shelter/organization as well as your local government.
If you're not comfortable hosting a fundraising activity, or if your community is still under COVID-19 restrictions, consider setting up a fundraiser online.
This Animal Rights Week, we encourage you to remember this quote from Ruth Bader Ginsberg: "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."
From all of us here at Wag!, happy Animal Rights Awareness Week!
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