If you made a new year’s resolution to do more for the animals but haven’t yet flexed that activist muscle this year, spring—the season of rebirth and renewal—provides you with the chance to take action. Helping animals doesn’t necessarily demand a grand gesture, as simple acts such as taking a few minutes in the evening to send emails, devoting a weekend morning to walk shelter dogs, or toting literature with you to leave in strategic spots are great ways to help our furry friends. While there is a plethora of ways to welcome the rebirth of spring, here are our top five ways to help animals this season that’ll have you feeling like a new person.
1. Volunteer at a shelter
Nearly every town or city has a shelter filled with companion animals looking for homes. Many companion-animal shelters seek volunteers to help care for their resident cats, dogs, rabbits, and other homeless animals while they wait for their forever families. You can enjoy the spring weather with a canine companion as you take him or her for a nice walk. Or, if spring showers force you indoors, you can read children’s books to dogs (PS: they love the company and the soothing sound of your voice).
2. Write letters
Spending a few hours on your computer in a café? Why not take five minutes to write a letter to a local restaurant requesting more vegan fare? With snow and cold giving way to workable ground and warmer weather, spring is the season of growing vegetables that will ultimately offer a bounty of fresh produce. Why not suggest a few of your favorite veggies—mustard greens, lettuce, and green beans—that can be prepared straight from local farms in the spring? When writing, remember that as vegans, we are all ambassadors, and when we are respectful, generous, and friendly, others will be more likely to embrace our ideas. Compliment restaurant managers on what you enjoy about their establishments, and let them know that you hope they add vegan dishes so you can patronize them more frequently.
3. Distribute literature
By contacting your favorite animal-friendly nonprofit organizations that help animals, you can arrange to be sent packages of pamphlets to be distributed to the public. While you’re out enjoying the warmer weather, why not pop into your favorite coffeeshop and leave a stack of informative literature for others to find? We want our good-intentioned sharing of information to be welcomed and not seen as an intrusion (and we don’t want those pamphlets to be discarded), so ask the staff if they have an area for pamphlets or flyers. Often, these establishments have areas devoted to such information, but it’s always best to ask first. Once you drop off your pamphlets, offer the staff some of your own spring sunshine with a smile and a warm-hearted “thank you.”
4. Spring cleaning
The arrival of the new season means cleaning out packed closets and drawers, and many old items that might otherwise be discarded can be donated to local animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centers. Dog and cat shelters can often use old blankets, towels, and washcloths. Have a stack of newspapers you haven’t yet taken out for recycling? Likely, a shelter can use them. Did you find your great aunt’s fur coat in the attic and don’t know what to do with it? Many wildlife rehabilitation facilities use fur coats to offer comfort to injured or orphaned wildlife. Between now and Earth Day (April 22), Buffalo Exchange is operating their “Coats for Cubs” drive to encourage the donation of fur items for animals in need. Donations can be made at any of their locations throughout the United States.
Fostering is a wonderful way to offer love and a comfortable living situation to a homeless animal until they find a permanent place to live. A cat who is shy might be overlooked by potential families in a shelter, but he or she has a better chance of finding a permanent home by expressing his/her personality through foster care. There are also organizations such as Frankie’s Fund for Feline Care and Rescue in New York City and Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco that specialize in finding fosters for senior and special needs companion animals. Senior animals often have the hardest time finding homes, but have so much affection to give. Why not welcome in spring by filling your home with their love?
Maya Gottfried is the author of Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary and the forthcoming Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal.
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