April 11th was National Pet Day, and many animal lovers who have lost pets honored their lives by volunteering at their local animal shelter.
An estimated 6.5 million animals enter animal shelters in the United States every year. Of those, 1.5 million shelter animals — including 860,000 cats and 670,000 dogs — are euthanized per year according to the ASPCA. This is a decrease from the almost 2.6 million euthanized in 2011.
If you’ve lost a pet, volunteering at an animal shelter is the perfect ritual to pay tribute to your pet’s life. You can go monthly, yearly, or on significant dates such as your pet’s birthday or death anniversary to find animals loving homes and provide company while they’re at the shelter.
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Helping Hand (or Paw)
You can remember and thank your pet for their unconditional love by giving back to shelter animals in need. Some ways to improve the lives of shelter animals are by:
- Playing with them
- Petting them and giving them attention
- Taking them for a walk or run
- Reading to them
- Cleaning their kennels
- Donating items in need or making a monetary donation
- Making DIY no-sew pet beds
Another idea is to volunteer at pet adoption events to help save animals’ lives and find them loving homes. When coping with the loss of a pet, this is an effective way to get a feel for having animals around again before fully committing to a new pet.
Adopt to Save a Life
If you feel ready to have a pet again, you can save an animal’s life by adopting them and bringing them into your family. Here are a few things to consider before adopting a new pet:
- Have you given yourself proper time to mourn your pet?
- Are you ready for the responsibilities and costs that come with a new pet?
- Are you ready to start a relationship with a new pet?
You shouldn’t feel guilty when deciding to adopt a new pet. According to pet bereavement specialist Wallace Sife, adopting a new pet is a “healthy continuation of life,” as it doesn’t replace the memories you have with your deceased pet.
Funeral Homes and Animal Shelters
Funeral homes can work with their local animal shelter to inform the community about taking care of shelter animals and finding them loving families. Your funeral home also can partner up to create educational seminars about being a pet owner and what to do when your pet passes away.
Funeral homes also can organize community events for adopting and playing with animals or making mementos for grieving families.
In addition to benefiting the community, working with a community animal shelter creates word-of-mouth marketing opportunities for your funeral home. When the times comes, the animal shelter will spread the word about your funeral home to pet owners whose pet has passed away or who wish to preplan their pet’s funeral.