January 6, 2020Blog

Which Small Donations Have The Biggest Impact For The Homeless And Their Pets?

By Mandy Lee

Homelessness is a heartbreak

ing epidemic. There are roughly 3.5 million people who are homeless in the United States, and around five to ten percent of them are pet owners. Despite the staggering statistics, it’s still challenging to know the best way to help this at-risk population.

When you drive down the road or walk down the street and see a homeless person and their pet, you might be tempted to stop and help. No one likes to see another human and an innocent animal struggling. However, often it’s easier to turn a blind eye. Maybe it’s because you’re uncomfortable, or perhaps you don’t k

now how to help, so you’re left feeling guilty and wishing you could make a difference.

The good news is that there are several small donations that you can give to the homeless and their pets that can make a big difference in the quality of life for both the owner and the animal.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Small Donations for The Owner

A lot of times, people are hesitant to give away money to the homeless, but there are several other little things you can donate instead.

  • Non-Perishable Food Items: While a hot meal is always a nice treat, things like granola bars, tuna and crackers, applesauce, or peanut butter are fantastic food items to give. They’re light and easy to carry, and the person can eat them over time.
  • Gift cards to Fast Food Chains: A gift card to a fast-food chain is also a nice gesture. It allows them to purchase the food when they’re hungry and order the food they want.
  • Toiletries: Small bottles of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, baby wipes, and lotion can go a long way. Additionally, items like hairbrushes, toothbrushes, nail clippers, feminine hygiene products, and razors are all terrific small donations.
  • Socks: Socks are one of the most asked for clothing items for people living on the streets because there’s nothing more miserable than wet, dirty socks. Other clothing items like gloves, hats, and scarves are also small and easy clothing items that make a significant impact, especially during the frigid winter months.
  • First-Aid Kits: Having access to fundamental medical necessities can be the difference between a harmless cut and a major infection. Injuries are common for the homeless population, and those living with pets rarely seek medical attention because they don’t have anyone to look after their pet. A first-aid kit with band-aids, antiseptics, Neosporin, an ice pack, etc., could genuinely be a lifesaver.

Small Donations for The Pet

While you might not know what to donate to the owner, it’s even harder to know what the pet needs. However, just like the human needs necessary life supplies, so does the animal. Here are a few small donations that you can give for the pet.

  • Leashes and Collars: While homeless pets tend to be incredibly loyal and don’t often run away from their owners, collars and leashes are invaluable luxuries. Collars help everyone know that these furry pets have owners, and leashes ensure safety for everyone.
  • Food: Just like the homeless human, the pet needs to eat, too. Dry kibble and wet cans are great options. However, remember these pets and their owners move around a lot, so you don’t want to give them too large of a bag of dog food to have to haul around.
  • Treats: Homeless pets like treats just as much as your pet at home does. A bag of treats or bones are a wonderful donation to consider.
  • Toys: Animals love toys, so toys are a thoughtful thing to donate. They’ll give both pet and owner a lot of joy. You’ll want to choose more durable toys and ones that won’t need frequent washing. So, stay away from stuffed toys, which will get dirty quickly. Instead, choose balls, ropes, rubber toys, or toys whose fabric resists moisture and grime.
  • Groomer Gift Card: A gift card for a local groomer could make a great small donation. Just like regular pets, these animals need baths, haircuts, and nail clippings. Their owners want them to get them, too, they just often can’t afford it.
  • Flea and Tick Preventatives: Fleas and ticks are a dangerous problem for both pet and owner. A donation of a preventative can help keep these pests at bay. Veterinary care is uncommon with homeless pets, so a 3-month treatment for a flea and tick preventative can prevent discomfort, heartworms, and other illnesses.
  • Crates: Crates are another indispensable donation to make. Most of the homeless population who owns animals don’t have access to public transportation, because animals aren’t allowed to ride. However, some public transit will allow small animals in crates on board. Beyond that, crates provide a level of security for the animal that isn’t there otherwise.

Start Making A Difference with These Small Donations

Now you know that there are several options for helping the homeless and their pets. These small donations aren’t expensive, and they’ll make a significant impact on the lives of the human, the pet, and most likely, donating will impact you, too. Making a choice to give instead of turning away feels amazing. As actor John Holmes once said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”


Mandy Lee is a dog mom, avid volunteer veterinarian, and co-author of Saved By The Bark blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for dog owners of all breeds.