Working with animals can be a very rewarding experience.  Studies have shown that an animal presence in your life can improve your health in numerous ways including psychological and social benefits. They help cope with loneliness and are incredibly comforting to people.

Talk to anyone with a companion animal – the animal is an important part of their lives and can be regarded as a member of the family.  And while being with animals can be valuable to us, there are also numerous ways that you can get involved with animals that benefit them.

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1. Volunteer at an Animal Shelter or Rescue

Animal shelters and humane societies can be found all around.  Supporting them by offering your time to walk dogs and socializing cats is a great way to be around animals.  Some shelters even offer opportunities to get even more involved with animals such as learning how to train dogs and being in charge of introducing animals to potential adopters.

Shelters always can use help in various ways and are always looking for people who love animals to volunteer with them.  As well, rescue organizations shelters are great to get involved in as well.  These organizations often take animals out of crowded shelters and have a foster network already established to take care of the animals until they can be adoptedVolunteer opportunities with them usually include helping out at events to get animals adopted.

2. Volunteer at a Sanctuary

While most people can say that they’ve met dogs and cats, not many can say that they’ve gotten to know many pigs or chickens.  Volunteering at a farm sanctuary, an organization that rescues farm animals, can be a very rewarding and educational experience. Being able to see them in a natural environment and learning about their stories can help you understand them and get to know them. As well, you will be helping an organization dedicated to helping all animals and ensuring the happiness of the animals they rescue.

3. Adopt an Animal

If you are looking to bring an animal into your home, the importance of rescuing an animal cannot be understated. Not only are you enriching your life with a companion, but you are also saving them and possibly other animals from being euthanized.  Shelters have limited space and resources and by adopting an animal from a shelter, you are opening up space for other animals that come into the shelter. Even if you are interested in a pure-bred animal, you can easily find them through a rescue organization. Many rescues are devoted to rescuing certain breeds and they are equally as important to support as they help open space at overcrowded shelters.

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While adopting is important, it should never be taken lightly.  Bringing an animal into your home requires a lot of responsibility and isn’t something that should be decided on the fly. It’s important to ensure you have appropriate finances, enough time, and that the animal is a good fit for you. Look to this guide for things to consider before adopting an animal.

4. Foster an Animal

Many shelters fill up quickly and are tight for space. When they run out of space for animals they often are forced to euthanize less adoptable animals. However, by fostering an animal, you are opening up space for another animal. Fostering also allows the animal to live outside a cage, thereby allowing their personality to come out. You can get to know them better and help them find the perfect home to fit their personality.

5. Rehabilitate Wildlife

When people consider helping out animals, wildlife rehabilitation is often something not thought of. However, there is a great need for volunteers at wildlife centers to help injured wild animals or abandoned young. While volunteering with wild animals is a little different from domesticated animals and requires extensive training, it can be very rewarding. Learning about wild animals’ natural habits and rehabilitating them to eventually let them back into the wild is an extremely educational experience and is very important to not only that animal’s life but also their ecosystem. To get involved, find a wildlife rescue near you.

Image source: National Mill Dog Rescue/Facebook

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