10 Dog Causes That Deserve Your Donations This Holiday Season

If you've got some extra cash to give this year, why not use it to better the life of a dog?


Animal-welfare organizations need help year-round, but the holiday season brings with it a multitude of gift-giving opportunities. Making a donation to one or more of these causes can better the lives of dogs in your community or around the country. You can give directly, in the name of a loved one, or in memory of a beloved pet no longer living.

1. Local rescue group, humane society, or shelter

Whether you got a furever friend through the organization or simply support its efforts, a donation of money or supplies will help the volunteers continue their good works. Inquire with a known group, humane society, or shelter as to its needs, or use Petfinder to discover organizations in your area.

2. Local pet food bank or national distributor

Imagine not being able to afford food for your dogs. Help those in exactly that situation by donating to a local pet food bank. You also can give to a national organization that obtains perfectly good surplus pet food from manufacturers and distributes it to animal-welfare organizations. The organizations not only give the food to their rescues but also to families in need, helping to keep more dogs at home and out of the shelter system. Find a local pet food bank through your area humane society or donate to a national distributor such as Rescue Bank.

3. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

The ASPCA has its fingers in a number of animal-welfare pies, including rescuing animals from abuse, passing humane laws, and sharing resources with shelters across the country. The organization offers a variety of ways you can donate funds, including:

When you donate in the name of a person or pet, the ASPCA sends a greeting card to the recipient acknowledging your gift. Symbolic Gifts also come with a greeting card, certificate of appreciation, and an educational brochure, as well as a premium gift of your choosing (collar, bowl, or pin) for the higher donation levels. All donations of $25 or more result in a one-year subscription to ASPCA Action newsletter for you.

4. The Humane Society of the United States

The HSUS also works to improve the lives of animals on a national and state level, including advocating through public policy, corporate reform, and national campaigns against cruelty. Among the many donation opportunities are:

When you donate in the name of a person or pet, the HSUS sends a greeting card to the recipient acknowledging your gift, as well a one-year subscription to All Animals magazine for donations of $25 or higher.

5. North Shore Animal League America

In addition to the more than one million dogs and cats North Shore Animal League America has saved since 1944, its current efforts include helping the many pets displaced by Hurricane Sandy. It continues to care for hundreds of animals at its emergency pet shelter in Nassau County, New York, and it distributes pet supplies to the areas hardest hit by the storm. The organization offers a variety of ways you can donate funds, including:

When you make a gift donation or sponsorship, the organization sends a greeting card to the recipient. Personalized tributes include a memorial brick or photo tile at the organization’s Port Washington, New York, campus. The tile donation also comes with a version for your home.

6. PetSmart Charities

You likely already give to this organization at the register each visit, but consider a holiday donation as well. The largest funder of animal-welfare efforts in North America, PetSmart Charities creates and supports programs that save the lives of homeless pets, raise awareness of companion-animal welfare issues, and promote healthy relationships between people and pets. You can make a monthly, one-time, or tribute or memorial donation. When you donate in the name of a person or pet, the organization sends a greeting card via regular mail or email to the recipient acknowledging your gift.

7. Search Dog Foundation

When Wilma Melville retired from teaching school, she and her dog Murphy trained to become a canine search team. Her work after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing inspired her to create Search Dog Foundation, which partners rescued dogs with firefighters to find people buried alive in disaster wreckage. Since then, SDF dogs have helped in more than 80 emergencies and disasters, including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Help the organization train additional teams with a monthly or one-time gift in your name or that of a loved one or pet. You can even sponsor a search dog for $10,000.

8. The Pets for the Elderly Foundation

This organization covers adoption fees so those 60 or older can bring a companion dog or cat into their life. It works with nearly 60 shelters across the country. You can make a one-time donation via mail or PayPal.

9. Kickstarter Campaign: A Dog Named Gucci

When Doug James heard a puppy’s cries while standing on his front porch, he went to investigate. The dog had been brutally abused, including being set on fire. James saved Gucci’s life, and the two spent 16 years together. During that time, the pair worked with legislators to change the laws in Alabama to make animal abuse a felony.

Noted rock documentarian/director Gorman Bechard and producer Patricia Clark want to make a movie about the abused pup and his rescuer, not only to tell their tale but also to help change animal abuse laws in other states. Money donated given the A Dog Named Gucci Kickstarter campaign will fund transportation, food, and lodging expenses so volunteers can travel to Alabama for interviews, as well as other expenses associated with the film.

The campaign runs through Dec. 17. Backers will receive a gift in return, ranging from a “Special Thanks to” listing in the credits for a pledge of $1 or more, to the largest backer package available (first executive producer listing on the poster, separate title card in the film credits, invite to the premiere, DVD screener of the flim, and Bechard’s six DVDs and six novels) for a $10,000 pledge or more. Not to worry if you don’t have that kind of cash, as multiple backer levels exist in between the two.

10. Donate your time

If the current economy has left you without much to spend this holiday season, you can choose to give by volunteering at a local animal organization. Use a site such as VolunteerMatch to find opportunities near you.

These are just a few of the many worthy dog causes you can donate to this holiday season. When donating to a charitable organization, use a website such as Charity Navigator to help you make the most informed contributions possible. Also, remember to save your receipts. Donations not only feed your soul, but they also can result in a deduction come tax time.

What dog causes do you donate to? Please share your favorites in the comments!

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