While it’s wonderful to show your appreciation to shelter and rescue staff and volunteers at any time, it’s great to also have a special week every year to celebrate the important work they do saving and caring for homeless pets. In 2013 National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week is November 3rd to 9th.  Inspired by the 7 days of this special week, Adopt-a-Pet.com has come up with 7 ways you can show your local shelters and rescues how much you appreciate the role they play in your community! You can pick one, two, try them all, or come up with your own ways to show the kind-hearted folks who have dedicated their lives to helping homeless pets how much their time and efforts mean to you and your family.

Shelter and rescue staff and volunteers are on the front lines of animal rescue. Day in and day out they are dealing with abandoned, abused, hurt, sick, and suffering animals — and people who are often in very difficult situations too. “Compassion fatigue” is just as common as it is in other professions that kind of high-stress work. For those compassionate souls who’ve chosen to work or volunteer in animal welfare, the numbers of homeless animals and people who can’t or won’t keep their pets can feel overwhelming. Sometimes it takes only a very small gesture of appreciation… a word, a note, a warm smile… that keeps them going.

Here are 7 ways for 7 days you can show shelter and rescue staff and volunteers your appreciation!

  1. Send a thank you card. Or a letter. Put it the mail or drop it off at your local shelter. Yes email is easier, but a physical card or letter is more likely to have a longer lasting effect and be seen by many more people. If you have kids, enlist their help in making a thank you card!
    At the shelter where I worked, they would pin thank you cards and letters on a bulletin board by the copy machine, next to the door. Every time I made a copy or walked in and out of the office, my eyes would go to that board to see if anything new had come in – and that could really turn my  day around! 
  2. Shake their hand. You can say thank you or nothing at all. A warm caring handshake is a wonderful way to show your respect and appreciation! 
  3. Use your words. Tell them that you appreciate them, in person. You can keep it simple, but a few genuine words expressing why you appreciate what they do can mean so much. “Thank you for working so hard to keep these kennels clean,” I heard one visitor say to a shelter maintenance worker. You should have seen how he stood up tall and smiled at that compliment! 
  4. Write a positive review. Did you have a good experience visiting or adopting your pet from a local shelter or rescue? Let others know by writing an honest review on their Facebook page, Yelp, Citysearch, or your local business review website. 
  5. Give a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive… at the shelter where I worked, vegan baked gifts were a huge hit and enjoyed by all the staff and volunteers.  (Some city and county departments have strict rules about employees being able to accept gifts, so you may want to check first.) If you own a local business, how about presenting your shelter with an award, proclamation, or plaque?    
  6. Send a photo of your adopted pet.  If you adopted a pet, taking a happy photo and sending (mail or email) or sharing on social media is one of the most encouraging things you can do for shelter and rescue staff and volunteers. They dedicate countless hours, dollars, and tears with that one goal — finding a pet a new loving home. Your happy adopted pet photo (we call them “Happy Beginnings”) is possibly one of the easiest and most heart-warming ways to show your shelter and rescue appreciation!
  7. Last but certainly not least… adopt a pet! We can’t think of a better way to show your appreciation for shelters and rescues, can you? You can find a pet to adopt at your local animal shelter or rescue at http://www.adoptapet.com