Making Donations to Your Local Animal Shelter

Making Donations to Your Local Animal Shelter

Helping Your Local Animal Heroes

We’ve all seen the Sarah McLachlan commercials encouraging us to donate and save abused shelter animals. Those sad, big brown eyes reaching out from the television screen puts a choke hold on the hearts of even the most seasoned veterans. But before you break out your checkbook or load up your minivan with dog food and kitty litter to donate to your local shelter, it is important to find out what they really need.

Some animal shelters will have a specific brand of food that they feed to their animals, and will often already have some sort of deal with the distributer. Unless you know of their operating procedures with regards to feeding, it’s best to stick to generic items that every shelter can use. If your local shelter doesn’t have a wish list of items they need posted on their website or elsewhere, below is a list of the top five items most shelters are looking for.

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1. Money!

Monetary donations are always first and foremost on any shelter’s wish list. Monetary donations allow for animal shelters to treat ill or injured animals that come to the shelter as a result of abandonment or cruelty cases. Although most shelters will ask for a surrendering fee to cover basic inoculations upon entry to the shelter, most individuals that are in need of surrendering don’t have the financial means to pay these dues. Additionally, a lot of non-profit animal shelters rely on monetary donations to remain open and to help the community at large.

2. Beds, blankets, towels, linens

 If you’re looking to clean out your linen closet, feel free to donate whatever items you no longer need. Clean towels, blankets, and sheets can be used as bedding materials for cats and dogs, so the fluffier the better. Of course, actual dog beds and cat beds are always received with open arms as well. If you have the means to do so, purchasing a fancy orthopedic or heated bed for either dogs or cats would be a fantastic donation!

3. Toys

 Cat toys, dog toys, rabbit chew sticks, etc., are always welcome. A bored caged animal makes for an awful existence. Having toys for dogs and fuzzy mice or scratching posts for cats helps make their stay at the shelter a little more tolerable. Birds and other small animals will appreciate toy donations as well, so don’t forget to see if the shelter has a need for those, too.

4. Treats

In the same vein as toys, treats help for training and for rewarding good behavior in the shelter. Unopened jars of peanut butter, meaty type jerky training treats, and unopened bags of cat treats, dental chews, catnip, and other treats make great donations.

5. Cleaning Supplies

Basic cleaning supplies are always welcome. Dish-washing liquid is needed for cleaning bowls and kitchen utensils. Laundry detergent is always a hot commodity in an animal shelter, where mountains of laundry are commonplace. And bleach is a required cleaning supply at animal shelters. 


Again, check first, because your local animal shelter may have more specific needs. Some animals shelters ask for canned pet food donations, kitty litter, and other essential items. However, unless they ask for specific types of products, it’s best to stick with the generic types of donations we listed here. When in doubt, gift cards and other monetary donations are always accepted — and even preferred.