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Four items you might be able to donate to an animal shelter or rescue

Many animal shelters and rescues operate on limited budgets. Think of them the next time you’re decluttering, especially for items that aren’t suitable to donate to a thrift store. 

From old towels to gently used pet toys, here are four items to consider donating to your local animal shelter.

Note: Always call the shelter first to make sure they are accepting donations before showing up unannounced.

Yorkie with blankets and dog toys

Pet supplies, toys, and enrichment

Just like humans, animals need mental stimulation and enrichment to thrive. Donating gently used pet toys gives much-needed entertainment and helps alleviate stress for shelter animals. Before donating toys, make sure they are clean and in good condition.

Secondhand dog leashes, harnesses, crates, food dishes, and grooming supplies are always in demand at shelters. Donating items your pets no longer need helps shelters save money and ensures that every animal has access to the necessities.

The most common pet supplies requested by animal shelters are:

  • Crates, kennels, and exercise pens
  • Collars, leashes, and harnesses
  • Gently used and durable toys
  • Unopened and unexpired food, treats, and pill pockets
  • Food and water dishes
  • Pet safe shampoo and deodorizer
  • Grooming supplies including nail trimmers, brushes, and fragrance-free ear wipes
  • Potty pads, litter boxes, and litter scoops
  • Unexpired and unopened flea, tick, and heartworm preventative medication

Prescription pet food, toys, and enrichment

Cleaning supplies

Items such as bleach, dish soap, paper towels, and garbage bags are always in high demand at shelters to maintain cleanliness and hygiene standards. Scrub brushes, buckets, mops, and brooms may also be good options to consider donating so long as they are in good condition.

The most common cleaning items requested by animal shelters are:

  • Bleach and disinfecting cleaning products
  • Paper towels
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Trash bags

Dog with towels and toys to donate

Towels, blankets, and bedding

Your old towels and blankets may go out of style, but to animals in shelters, they provide warmth and comfort. Blankets can be used to line kennels, and towels are always needed to dry off animals after a bath. These items are essential for maintaining the well-being of shelter animals but may not be high on the shelter’s purchase list. Even t-shirts that are too worn to be donated to a thrift store can find a new purpose at an animal shelter as makeshift bedding or protective layers for animals recovering from surgeries.

Animal shelters often request:

  • Bath towels
  • Blankets
  • Dog and cat beds and crate cushions
  • Cleaning rags

Office supplies

Running an animal shelter involves a lot of behind-the-scenes work and paperwork. Supplies like pens, notepads, and envelopes help shelter staff stay organized and efficient in their day-to-day operations. Filing cabinets, folders, and binders may also be good options for donation. Your local animal shelter may appreciate donated newspapers as they are incredibly versatile and can be used for lining cages, absorbing messes, or providing a surface for animals to relieve themselves. Other household items such as zip ties, tissues, and empty pill bottles may also be useful for animal shelters as part of their daily operations. Always call before donating to your local animal shelter to ensure they are accepting donations.

Golden retriever in a dog bed

Find a local animal shelter or rescue

The next time you find yourself decluttering your home, consider setting aside items that could benefit your local animal shelter or rescue. Every donation makes a difference in helping provide for the basic needs of animals and supporting the dedicated staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure their well-being. Note that this is not a complete list of every animal shelter and rescue in the county. Find a rescue near you to support with your donation!