Dog Shelter Donations: 6 Do’s and a Don’t

Dog Shelter Donations: 6 Do’s and a Don’t

Dog shelters are typically run on a tight budget. That forces paid employees and volunteers to search for ways to provide adequate care while keeping an eye on the bottom line. Donations go a long way to make up the difference. We’ve put together a list of the some of the best items to donate along with one that you should probably keep at home or discard somewhere else.

The Shelter Donation Do’s

  1. Food and TreatsAs you can imagine, a significant portion of a shelter’s budget goes to food. After all, there are a lot of mouths to feed. Every few weeks, you can pick up an extra bag or can of dog food to drop off at the shelter.
  2. Dog BedsIf you’re moving your dog to a new bed (or your bed with it’s pillow top mattress pad), a shelter could really use your dog’s old one. However, it should be intact with no filling coming out so that a dog isn’t tempted to chew and potentially swallow the filling.

    While a dog bed of any kind makes a great donation, waterproof/resistant beds that resist mold and fungus are particularly coveted for the extra hygiene they offer. The bed size doesn’t matter because dogs of all breeds end up in shelters.

  3. Blankets and TowelsBlankets and towels come in handy for all kinds of purposes. For example, they can be used as bedding when a dog bed isn’t available or, in the case of towels, used to clean up messes or accidents. Fleece blankets, in particular, work well because they’re soft and warm, giving shelters dogs a small piece of comfort while they wait for their forever home.
  4. Collars and LeashesMany dogs enter the shelter without a collar. A collar and leash make it easier for volunteers to care for the dogs as needed. Like other donated items, the collar and leash should be in reasonably good condition so they don’t break while in use.
  5. Dog ToysLike dog beds, as long as they’re in fairly good condition, toys make a great donation. It can be a lonely and sometimes boring existence at a shelter, and toys give the dogs something to do. Even your child’s discarded stuffed animals can be used at a shelter. And, if toys are on sale, you might want to pick up an extra for the shelter dogs.
  6. Cleaning SuppliesEmployees and volunteers work hard to keep shelters clean and safe for their temporary borders. Cleaning supplies like newspapers, paper towels, and hand sanitizer are needed. We suggest calling ahead to find out what supplies might be needed and the type of cleaners preferred

A Shelter Donation Don’t

Here it is, the item that shelters may get offered that simply don’t work—mattresses. Yes, they’re soft and comfortable, but there simply isn’t room in a shelter. Even if there was, mattresses are thick and soak up liquids, which can quickly become unsanitary in a crowded shelter.

Though you may not be able to adopt every dog at the shelter, your donations make their lives and the lives of those caring for them easier. Your donations also help those running the shelter to use the budget for other needed services.

Ellie Porter
Managing Editor |




I got my start in dog rescue by using Facebook to help network dogs who were in high kill shelters in San Bernardino, CA.  While that was fulfilling, I really wanted to be more hands-on and interact with the dogs who were being saved.  I wanted to personally see the transformation from a scared shelter dog to a happy and adoptable dog.  So far I have fostered four wonderful dogs for The Rescued Dog and hope to foster many more!  I also love volunteering at the adoption events and watching when a match is made between a dog and their new owners.


My design thesis in my senior year of college revolved around re-designing the animal sheltering system. I spent hours and hours a day volunteering at a handful of shelters. I saw someone bring in a terrified dog as he screamed at shelter staff: “I just don’t want the damn thing anymore..” That was the tipping point for me… Also, this is my favorite quote…ever: “All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”


Life has so much to offer if we remember to look beyond ourselves. I volunteer because it continuously teaches me something new about people, about cooperation, about compassion, and about myself. I have a great passion for animals. We have three rescue dogs that came to us in 2008.  Since then I’ve wanted to work with an origination that helps save dogs and put them in forever, loving homes so when I came across this opportunity with The Rescued Dog to help I jumped at the chance.  I am passionate about their mission to save dogs from high kill shelters and I truly believe that help comes in many forms, volunteering is one way to accomplish what we are supposed to accomplish in this lifetime.


I started volunteering with TRD in 2015. Volunteering has been great. I love dogs, I mean who doesn’t right?! However, I do not own a dog…not yet. I live vicariously through the rescue. If you can’t afford to adopt a dog or don’t have the ideal living situation to have a dog, like me, you can still “scratch your itch,” that’s a great thing about volunteering with us. So, the irony is I have been telling you about how great it would be to adopt a rescued dog and save them from their unfortunate circumstance and put them in a happy and caring home, and in my case, I didn’t know it then, however, the rescue saved me. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be a part of and for filling my need to be around so many furry friends.


I was introduced to rescue as a child when I met a greyhound rescue organization one night at Balboa Park and convinced my parents to adopt one.  Our family greyhound Bookie and I were best buds for the ten years we had him.  Since then I have been a sucker for rescue dogs.  I am so glad I was introduced to TRD by a friend and fellow foster, and have had a chance to work with some great people and dogs, and found my little buddy, Madison!


I was introduced to The Rescued Dog while working at a local shelter.  I was excited about their mission to save dogs from high-kill shelters & wanted to participate with this mission.  I love working with the TRD team and fosters to get these pups out of the shelter, into a great foster home and finally on to their furr-ever homes!


I have always been a firm believer that doggie cuddles could save the world. So, when my mom said she wanted to start fostering dogs I was very excited. In the short period of time I have been volunteering with The Rescued Dog I realized I want to be an advocate for change. I took on this role not only to push myself but to also be a bigger voice for all of the shelter animals, since they can’t do that on their own.


The bond I have with my dog, Otis who I rescued about 2 years ago,  is that of a family member, a best friend, and a companion. Saving dogs from high kill shelters is a rewarding task, but adding a new member to someone’s family is life changing. Rescued is truly the best breed.


I got involved with rescuing dogs when my own dogs and animal loving kids got a touch older and realized I had a tiny amount of free time to fill! My kids begged for Chihuahuas, Daschunds, Huskys etc….so naturally I thought fostering would be great!  Once I got in, I was hooked and wanted to do more to help shelter dogs find the forever love my own dogs had. In regard to volunteering, I believe that if we all give a little we can accomplish a lot!


10 years ago I took a road trip from Philadelphia to San Diego with my beloved English Bulldog.  As a travel nurse, I was given the opportunity to move across the country, and with working only three days a week, I had time to volunteer with my first passion, rescue dogs.  Through volunteering, I met an amazing group of women who shared my same vision, so we collaborated The Rescue Dog!  I am so proud of our accomplishments and I look forward to continuing to educate and save lives!


I was fostering for the SD Humane Society but was looking for a rescue I could become more involved in. A friend foster failed with TRD so I filled out an application. I feel like I’ve found my calling! There is nothing like getting a dog right out of the shelter and making him feel safe. Now as an adoption coordinator I get to see the rescue through to the end, a great family and a forever home!!


I rescued my first dog in 2010 and started volunteering with a rescue a year later and loved it! After meeting a few amazing friends, it became evident rescue work was more than just a fun hobby. I truly believe the best dogs are rescued dogs and have come to find my true passion in life is in dog rescue. Fostering is one of the most rewarding experiences one can have and I highly recommend it to everyone! I can’t imagine my life without dogs, and thankfully I’ll never have to. I’m so excited to be working with such a fantastic group of people and I can’t wait to see what The Rescued Dog accomplishes!



It is easy to buy a dog from pet stores, online ads, or from dog breeders, but rescuing a shelter dog is definitely more rewarding.  How can you not admire that once sad dog, now all waggy and happy because they’ve been given a second, sometimes third chance at finding their forever home?  The ability of these pups to recognize and embrace their new life never ceases to amaze me.  The Rescued Dog saves dogs from high kill shelters and prepares them to meet and be adopted by a loving family.  TRD fills the corners of my life and it makes me happy to know I’m doing something worthwhile for these sweet pups.  Having rescued – and been rescued – by my own dogs proves that rescued really is the best breed.


My passion for rescuing dogs comes from my great experiences with rescue dogs in my life. I personally have had my life brightened by many great rescue dogs, and I have seen how having pets, and dogs particularly, has improved the lives of my friends and family. For me, the best part of dog rescue is seeing the connection that dogs and people make, and knowing that when we connect the right dogs with the right people, we are improving the lives of everyone involved, both human and canine.