By Janine Hagen
As we begin a new year, it may be on your New Year’s Resolutions list to volunteer more. What’s better than volunteering? Volunteering with your pet of course! So what can you and your pet do together to make a difference? Here are a few ideas:
1. Therapy Animal Team
Become a registered therapy animal team with your pet! A therapy animal is a well-trained pet (dog, cat, rabbit, Guinea pig, bird, miniature horse, alpaca/llama, or potbellied pig) that has passed an in-person standardized test with their handler. Therapy animals have a healing influence on humans which is why they are invited to schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and libraries! This is a great way to give back to the community if your pet loves to meet new people!
2. R.E.A.D. Dogs
Already a therapy animal team? Then you might be interested in joining R.E.A.D. Dogs. This program is designed to improve children’s literacy by reading of books to a dog. If you have a kid-friendly therapy dog, this is a great program to consider!
3. Search and Rescue
Minnesota Search and Rescue Dog Association has trained teams for wilderness trailing, urban trailing, cadaver, disaster searches, evidence search, and search management. Dogs are trained to detect human scent in order to assist in an emergency such as a missing person’s case. If you and your dog want to gain these life-saving skills, learn more about becoming a handler here.
4. Charity Run
Is your pet not a fit for being a therapy animal or a search & rescue dog? No worries! We still have three more suggestions! How about a dog-friendly charity race? Leading up to the race, you and your dog can train together. For even more fun, recruit your friends and their dogs! Check out Walk for Animals (benefits the Animal Humane Societyin Golden Valley, MN) or Fast and the Furry (benefits People and Pets Together)!
5. Foster Family
You and your pet can truly make a difference in another pet’s life by fostering for a local rescue! There are so many wonderful rescues in the Twin Cities that we can’t list them all here, but we bet you have at least one in mind! By welcoming a pet guest into your home, you can help socialize this new pet and get him/her one step closer to finding a forever family! If your pet needs a friend or if you have multiple pets that enjoy meeting new pets, this is a fantastic option!
We hope these ideas have sparked an interest in a specific way that you and your pets can give back to the community this year. If we left out your favorite way to volunteer with your pets, tell us in the comments below!