1. DONATE SUPPLIES Donations don’t have to be in the form of money. There’s always a need for pet supplies such as food, blankets and beds, says Colleen Curtis, the chief executive officer of The Emma Animal Rescue Society (Tears; www.tears.org.za), a rescue and rehabilitation centre for cats and dogs. Shelters prefer blankets that are light and fleecy, as they are easier to wash and maintain.
2. VOLUNTEER If you’re not keen on working directly with the animals, there are other areas in which you can assist, such as doing admin work, giving the building a fresh coat of paint, tidying up the garden or other maintenance duties that help with the daily functioning of the facility.
3. WALK AND GROOM ANIMALS Not only is exercise essential for a dog’s health, it also keeps him looking healthy and happy – and more adoptable.
4. SPREAD THE WORD Encourage friends to adopt rather than buy a pet, says Curtis. Get your kids involved; if they’re 16 or older, they can volunteer at Tears.
5. SPAY OR NEUTER YOUR OWN PET Responsible pet ownership goes a long way towards solving the problem of overcrowded shelters.