If your 2018 goals include giving, consider supporting some of the 6.5 million cats and dogs placed in U.S. animal shelters annually. We asked Inga Fricke, director of pet retention programs for the Humane Society of the United States, for the best ways to help four-legged friends in need.

Think beyond the chew toy.
Animal shelters always need the basics—clean towels, catnip-stuffed mice—but they require less obvious items, too. "Hot dogs and peanut butter are regularly used for dog training," says Fricke. "And office items are often in short supply." Ask your local rescue about its top priorities and give generously.

Show off your skills.
"Shelters will put your occupational expertise to great use," says Fricke. Lawyers are able to review adoption contracts, carpenters (or even adept IKEA assemblers) can build agility equipment, and a shutterbug's portraits of Welsh corgis and Maine coons help beautify pamphlets and promotional materials.

Post with a purr-pose.
If you're likes-minded, use some of your daily Instagram time to give adoptable animals more visibility. "Shelters aim to educate the public," says Fricke. "You can make a big impact just by sharing a specific pet's story or a rescue's information with your social network."


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