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10 Ways to Help Your Local Animal Rescue This Holiday Season

Here's how to make this holiday season a happier one for homeless pets.

No one wants to be homeless for the holidays, but millions of cats and dogs nationwide are without homes and that includes tens of thousands here in the metro Atlanta area. Helping them is not as hard as you might think.

1.) Spay or neuter your own pets. Estimates are that 100,000 dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters in Georgia annually, at significant cost to taxpayers. You can do your part to end pet overpopulation with a routine surgery for your dog or cat.  Non-profit, low cost spay and neuter clinics like the ones run by LifeLine Animal Project actually make fixing your pet more affordable than caring for a litter of puppies or kittens.

2.) Donate needed pet items. Beds, crates, collars, leashes, cat litter, dog and cat toys, treats, food, blankets, sheets and towels all make life easier and nicer for shelter pets and are a great help your local rescue's bottom line.

3.) Donate money or gift certificates. Donations of any amount help greatly and are tax deductible. Even giving up those large caramel mocha lattes for a week and donating the cash will help to save lives (not to mention calories!)

4.) Start a "Friends of" club for your local shelter or rescue. There's power in numbers. Your office, church or hobby group can have a yard sale or gather donations of money or needed items to help homeless animals this holiday season.

5.) Don't buy while shelter pets die. Opt to adopt instead of purchasing a pet when you decide to add a four-legged family member to your household. Shelter pets will have been seen by a vet and will have already had their vaccinations before you bring them home, saving you money and time. Have an affinity for a certain breed? Twenty-five percent of all pets in shelters are purebred dogs or cats. Can't or don't want to adopt but still love pets? Sponsor a dog or cat at your local rescue.

6.) Shop where your dollars help homeless pets. In Avondale Estates, upscale resale shop Second Life  benefits four Atlanta animal rescue and advocacy organizations: Friends of DeKalb Animals , Royal Potcake Rescue , Ahimsa House  and LifeLine Animal Project. When you shop at or donate items to Second Life, proceeds help local homeless pets.

7.) Use your online presence to help animals in need. All that time spent on social media can do more than keep you in touch with old and new pals, it can make you a better friend to animals in need. "Friend" your local rescues on Facebook and re-post their notices about adoptions or benefit events. Add a banner to your webpage to help publicize your favorite rescue. Use Twitter to tweet about adoptable animals at local shelters. Feature pets from your local rescue on your Tumblr account.

8.) Take a walk. Volunteer dog walkers help to keep shelter pets healthy and help to socialize them and get them ready for new homes. Call your local rescue and ask about their dog walking programs.

9.) Scoop poop. Not glamorous, but needed. Grateful shelter staff and cat rescuers will hold you in high esteem when you come by to pet and pay attention to cats waiting for adoption and do a little cleaning while you are there.

10.) Volunteer your talent. Everyone, from graphic artists to journalists to stay-at-home moms to carpenters or college students has a talent that can be utilized by local shelters to help homeless animals. If you don't know what you can do, many rescues are willing to train you how to help.

"Ya'll give us a call," said Mickie Blair, LifeLine's field coordinator, when asked about what people can do this holiday season to lend a hand at their no-kill shelter, "The kitties want to see you! The puppies need you!"

This article originally appeared on Decatur.Patch.com.

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