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5 Ways to give back for pets

The holidays are the perfect time of year to give back to the charities and organizations that you feel most passionate about -- and if you're an animal lover, animal shelters and pet-related charities are the perfect place to share some holiday joy. Here are some ways to get started giving back for pets during the holiday season.

Contact your local animal shelter to see what they need

Every city has animal shelters of some sort or another and every animal shelter needs supplies -- from food to extra blankets and pet beds to comfort items such as toys. Give your local shelter or pet rescue organization a phone call to see what they might be in need of this time of year. Need a recommendation of where to call? Ask your veterinarian for suggestions. This is also a great way to include children in giving back to pets over the holidays -- they can help you pick up some supplies for local shelters and deliver them with you to see the full circle of giving.

Volunteer over the holidays when shelters are full

With the cold weather during the holidays, pet shelters are often much more full than other times of year. And because the holidays are not necessarily a high pet adoption time, numbers may be up in shelters where you live. Call your local shelter and offer to lend a hand. Often the volunteer jobs at animal shelters aren't the most glamorous you've ever encountered, but the hard work is sure to make you feel good. Don't forget about other nonprofit animal charities in your area as well -- they are often run by volunteers and happy to have you come in and stuff envelopes for mailings or get on the phone to do some cold-calling for donations.

Don't forget about homeless dogs

If you live in a city with a high homeless population, you may already know that homeless men and women often have pets who are also in need of warm blankets and clothes and food to keep them going. Pick up a small bag of dog food or a bag of high-calorie dog biscuits when you're at the grocery store and keep it in your car. The next time you see a homeless person with a pup in need, offer the food. This is a non-traditional way to give back to pets over the holidays, but one that's sure to be welcomed.

Can't give your time? Cash donations are always helpful

There's no doubt that the holidays are busy, so it's pretty likely that you don't have a Saturday to spare helping out at your local animal shelter. If you're feeling short on time this holiday season, but still want to find a way to give back to pets, consider making a cash donation. There are so many fantastic animal charities -- locally and nationally -- that are always in need of donations, so you can easily jump online and find one that you want to support. Be sure, however, to check out charities throughly before sending them any money to make sure they are legit, especially when making donations online.

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