How To Advocate For Animals This Dogtober & All Year Round

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As anyone with a dog in their life knows, these guys tend to take front-and-center stage no matter what month it is — but this October, puppers are on our minds a little extra. Dogtober isn't just an excuse to talk about dogs all month though. If you want to take advantage of this special opportunity to do something meaningful, you can advocate for all animals this Dogtober.

Our furry friends can't speak up for themselves, so it's important for compassionate people like you to help eradicate animal abuse, neglect, and suffering. With social media and websites like Volunteer Match making it easier than ever to find opportunities to make a difference this Dogtober, there's no excuse not to go the extra mile and make life better for all beings.

Whether you're ready to change your life by opening your home to a pup of your own or just want to spend a few extra minutes advocating for animals from the comfort of your bed, there are so many ways to stand up for animals during Dogtober. The best part is, they will make a difference and work for your schedule, budget, and comfort level. Here are a few ideas:

1. Host A Pet Supply Drive Howl-O-Ween Party

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Who doesn't want an extra excuse to party around Halloween Howl-o-ween? Invite a group of pals to get together for a Halloween themed barbecue at the park (dogs invited, of course!) and ask that each guest bring an item to donate to a local animal shelter. Check out this list of items that animal shelters use the most, put together by the Central California SPCA, and use that as your guide. Things like old towels and blankets, dog and cat food, cat litter, food bowls and litter pans, pet toys, collapsible wire crates or carriers for smaller animals, bottles of bleach for cleaning, and even hay bales (if your shelter houses horses) are immensely helpful to most shelters. Box everything up and deliver it to a nearby open-admission animal shelter to help the homeless animals in need.

2. Support Legislation That Helps Animals

It's great when people do their part to help animals, but until laws are put in place to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, it's hard to guarantee it'll happen on larger basis. By writing to or calling your U.S. representatives, participating in grassroots lobbying efforts, and urging government agencies like the USDA to back legislation that supports animals, you can make a huge difference. If you're ready to get active, check out the ASPCA's Advocacy Center, which makes it easy to inform yourself about current animal-related legislation, as well as how reach out to your senators, congresspeople, and other government officials with the click of a button.

3. Volunteer At An Animal Shelter

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According to the ASPCA's shelter intake and surrender pet statistics, more than 6 million animals enter animal shelters every year due to a lack of proper homes. That's a lot of animals, and shelters are always searching for volunteers to help with all sorts of tasks — yes, including bonding and playing with the animals in their care. Clear your schedule for a morning or afternoon and sign up for a volunteer shift at a shelter. If your schedule permits, you could even sign up for a regular shift as an ongoing volunteer. Search "open admission animal shelter" on Google along with the name of your city or county to find reputable shelters and rescues that may need your time.

4. Donate To An Animal Organization

There are tons of wonderful nonprofit organizations out there that are working to make a difference for animals on all different levels — from local animal rescue groups to international animal rights organizations. If you have the funds and are able to make a financial contribution, it can make a big difference for animals. Do some research on your own and use a third-party site like CharityNavigator.org to help you find a reputable and legitimate organization to donate to.

5. Get Informed & Speak Out Against Chaining Dogs

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While most of us consider dogs part of the family, there are unfortunately many people who keep their dogs chained outdoors 24/7. This forces them to endure freezing winters and hot summers, and can even put their lives at risk. As temperatures drop for the winter, it's important to get informed, speak up, and spread information about the importance of bringing dogs indoors. Read up on whether or not your state or city has a dog chaining ordinance, and if you happen to come across a property that breaks the ordinance, notify the authorities. PETA has a great resource that lets you check your area's legislation.

Spreading the word also helps, whether your area has laws to protect dogs from chaining or not. Check out organizations like The Backyard Dog Project on Facebook, and raise awareness on your social media pages. Encourage friends and family to share, too.

6. Spay Or Neuter Your Animals

If you have cats or dogs at home and haven't taken the time to spay/neuter them, use Dogtober as your excuse to do so. There are countless animals in shelters right now, waiting for their forever homes — and spaying/neutering your animals can help ensure that there aren't even more unwanted puppies and kittens entering our already overpopulated world. Contrary to some myths, there are many health benefits to spaying and neutering your animals. And while a spay/neuter surgery can cost around $200, there are many low-cost clinics that can help your pet get this surgery at an affordable rate. Check out the ASPCA's low-cost spay/neuter program database to find one near you.

7. Put Together An Animal Rescue Kit For Your Car

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You never know when you're going to come across an animal in need — whether it's a lost dog, a bird with a broken wing, or a wild animal who's been hit by a car. Being prepared by having all the necessary tools to help an animal on the ready can be key to saving their lives. Use Dogtober as a reason to put together a simple animal rescue kit for your car. It should include a carrier, gloves, towels, a nylon leash, gauze bandages, a pop-top can of dog and cat food, and contact info for local wildlife centers and emergency veterinary services. You can check out this list of emergency vet clinics, listed by state.

8. Foster A Dog In Need

If you have the space, time, money, patience, and energy that it takes to foster a dog who needs a temporary home, this could be a life-saving (and truly life-enriching) way to make a difference for dogs in your area. With many shelters overrun with homeless animals, they sometimes don't have the means to care for all of them - which is why animal foster families are so incredibly valuable. Read up on what it takes to foster a dog to see if it's right for you, and then use a tool like PetFinder.com to search for an animal shelter near you that is looking for foster families.

9. Adopt A Dog From A Shelter (Or Help Them Get Adopted)

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If fostering sounds nice but you're ready to open your home to a permanent new companion, consider adopting a dog from a shelter. There are so many wonderfully loving dogs who are waiting for a forever home, so use PetFinder.com or visit your local open-admission animal shelters in person to see if a pup or kitty is there waiting to meet you.

If you don't currently have the means to bring an animal into your home, that's OK — you can still help by sharing information about adoptable animals in your area on your social media accounts. Follow Pet Finder and all your local shelters, and share posts from there. This way, everyone who follows you will catch a glimpse of the sweet fur babies in your area who need a home — and perhaps they'll find their way to each other through your posts.