7 Ways to Help Homeless Pets This Holiday

Are you or your kids busy writing Santa lengthy wish lists? Are you looking for a way to keep the entire family in the giving spirit? And, maybe, just maybe, keep them a little less focused on the receiving spirit? Well, this season make it: All 'bout The Reindeer. No trouble!

Most people love animals and here are a few great ways for Mom, Dad, college students, teens and even the little ones to shift their hearts into giving this holiday season. It's also a great way to make the gifts you do give go further. Wouldn't it be nice to know that when you treat your family, feline or Fido to something nice under the tree that another animal who doesn't have a loving family is benefiting too? Or, that even a small donation will make a shelter dog's tail wag this holiday? Well, no matter how old you are or how much money you have, it is all possible and so easy to be an elf!

I checked in with our newest partner and pet giving expert Hollywood Grooming, who "Paw it Forward" everyday, to learn some wag-worthy giving tips. With these simple tips you can get your holiday shopping done, get your family into the spirit of giving and give a pet without a home a joyful holiday. So... put your elf hat on 'cause Santa Paws is coming to town!

1. Holiday Shop & Give Back. Buy a kong for Fido, a scratching post for your fluffy feline or even a paw print bag for Aunt Susie at The Animal Rescue Site where every purchase funds food for rescued animals in shelters and sanctuaries. Get your shopping done and give back at the same time!

2. Donate Your Pets' Gently Used Items. Shelters can always use some extra supplies. Find your local shelter or rescue group at Pet Finder and contact them to see if they have their own Santa wish list. Be sure to clean any supplies before you donate them. Your kids can help gather up the items, clean them and drop them off at the local shelter or animal rescue organization. Often a shelter's wish list will include:

• Water and food bowls

• Toys

• Leashes and collars

• Brushes/grooming tools

• Pet beds

3. Donate Pet Food & Litter. Shelters and rescue groups go through a lot of pet food and cat litter every day. You can buy pet food in bulk at wholesale stores and donate:

• Wet dog/cat food

• Dry dog/cat food

• Clumping cat litter

• Non-clay cat litter (for kittens and post-op cats)

• Dog/cat treats

4. Donate Your Time. Volunteering for a shelter is one of the most impactful ways to get involved. Many shelters need help with cleaning and caring for the animals and keeping the facility in good condition. Contact your local shelter to see if it needs extra volunteers.

5. Make a Monetary Donation. Of course, simply pulling out your wallet always makes a big impact, no matter what the size is of the financial donation. You can donate online to your local shelter, to rescue groups such as Karma Rescue, the DogzHaus or The Cat House on the Kings. There are numerous local organizations that really need your Holiday fun-ds and countless national organizations like The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) that need you too. Want to really feel like an elf assisting Santa with the reindeer? Make the donation in a loved one's name and give it to them as a stocking stuffer!

6. Foster or Adopt a Pet. The ultimate gift for an animal is giving it a home for the holidays. It is also the ultimate gift for a pet lover. BUT, make sure the entire family actually wants a pet before you present one as a holiday present. Please make sure everyone understands that a pet is a gift for life not just for the holidays. Everyone must be ready for the full-time job of getting the pet acclimated to its new home and everyone needs to ready for the lifetime of caring for it. Make sure your elf hat is on straight: you're giving an animal a forever loving home.

7. Hire Pet Services that Give Back: Looking to get Bruno all pretty for the holidays? Seek out a groomer like Hollywood Grooming that supports shelters through their "Paw it Forward" program. They donate their time and expertise by giving homeless animals full makeovers to give them the best chance of being adopted. Or, use a dog trainer or dog sitting facility like Tamar Geller's The Loved Dog that has a non-profit called Operation Heroes and Hounds which supports and pairs shelter dogs with injured military veterans.

Whatever way you decide to help an animal in need this holiday, it will be sure to make your entire family's holiday more merry! And, perhaps you will even add a new furry family member to your own home forever!