GratiTuesday: Sheltering animals waiting for their forever homes

Anytime I replace our towels or sheets, the old ones get laundered, folded, and taken to our local Humane Society, where they are used as bedding or to clean the enclosures. The staff is always so happy to receive the items, and I get an excuse to spend time hanging out with the beautiful cats and dogs (and guinea pigs and rabbits) waiting to be adopted.

This past Sunday, after I delivered a pile of towels, I decided to sit down in the brightly lit lobby and watch the human animals for a while. Since it was the weekend, there were a lot of visitors searching for a new friend to bring home with them. The staff, made up mostly by volunteers, was busy caring for the animals, interacting with the visitors, and doing the work necessary to keep the place humming along. Everyone seemed cheerful – and who wouldn’t be, surrounded by all that unconditional love.

Although all the animals I saw on Sunday were happy and healthy, that is not always the case. Just recently, 123 Yorkshire terriers were discovered living in horrific conditions in a hoarding situation. The good news is that after evaluation, treatment, and behavioral care, most of the Yorkies were made available for adoption, and all of those have found a home. This incident was especially challenging, but, unfortunately, not terribly rare.

I am so grateful for our local Humane Society for the compassionate work they do. They provide vital services by sheltering and adopting animals, providing positive reinforcement training classes, investigating animal cruelty and neglect, and presenting education programs. It is a private, nonprofit organization that receives no government funding and is supported solely by contributions, and the fees they charge for services. Best of all, once a healthy or treatable animal becomes available for adoption, it will remain available for as long as is necessary to find them a home.

Donor's names areengraved on each tag
Donors’ names are engraved on each tag

Even if you aren’t in a position to adopt a furry friend from your local Humane Society or animal shelter, they are probably looking for volunteers or donations. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to make a difference and you’ll probably get much more in return that what you are able to give.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

53 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Sheltering animals waiting for their forever homes”

  1. This post makes my heart glow. Animal shelters like this one do amazing work. I wouldn’t have thought about donating old towels and linens. That’s a great idea … thanks for sharing.

    This one looks like a beautiful facility. I love that creative fountain with the cat and dog.

  2. Next time I am throwing out towels I’ll ask my friend if the shelter she volunteers at takes them. I always had pets growing up and when my boys were young, but being allergic to cats and dogs, I only pet-sit on occasion.

  3. My husband and I are volunteer dog-walkers at our local human SPCA. You are right–they do incredible work and truly are dependent on their volunteers. There are numerous ways that people can help out through their time, cash donations or donations of used items for their annual book and goods drives. As you said, old sheets, towels, and blankets are greatly received. Thank you for sharing this and helping to spread the message.

    1. Our local HS has a wonderful website with a list of all the items they need (from office supplies to towels). Of course, cash donations are also well-received. I plan to volunteer as a kitty ear-scratcher soon, but dog-walker sounds like fun too.

  4. What a great article! As cat lover with 7 ‘jackpot kitties’ I am a supporter of a low cost or free spay and neuter clinic and local trap and release programs for feral cats. We must support the efforts to reduce the population and help those animals who can be adopted. This is a nationwide issue. Every bit of help makes a difference! Thank you for bringing attention to this cause.

  5. What a great post! Your Humane Society is really beautiful. The ones near me are far more utilitarian in their appearance but all, of course, do vital work. I’m also amazed by the synchronicity of your post. I adopted a dog from a shelter in Mexico 36 hours ago and will be writing about her in Thursday’s post. I’m delighted that I can link to your post. You and your other commenters offer great reminders of simple ways we can help all adoptable animals.

    1. That building replaced a much more utilitarian structure a few years ago. They received a lot of donations from our community to build the new facility and we are really proud of it. I am looking forward to reading about your adoption! What a lucky, lucky dog – I’ve seen the poor strays in Mexico; they usually don’t fare as well.

  6. How timely this post is. Just this morning we were talking about donating some cat food to the local Humane Society – and I’m not sure where it is, or even IF there is one near us. So now, prompted by your post, I will have to inquire, for sure!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. I hope you are able to locate one – I’m sure they’d be thrilled to receive any cat food you have. When my kitty died several years ago, taking her uneaten food to the Humane Society helped make me feel a little better.

    1. After reading so many comments from others who didn’t know that shelters love to have towels donated, I’m going to post something on my Facebook page too. I never knew what to do with old towels either until several years ago when I read an article about donating them.

  7. A good reminder of the good that goes on right in front of us every day. The Humane Society sets the standard for human selflessness. I’m allergic to most furry critters, but I do contribute $$$ because it’s the least that I can do for them.

  8. Like many commenting, I have never thought of this use for old towels. I have a stash that I don’t want to use but feel I can’t throw out. Lightbulb moment! But like the lady above I need to avoid coming out with a cat…..

    1. I was the same way with older towels… I didn’t want to use them any more, but it didn’t feel right just throwing them away. Donating them to a local shelter is the perfect solution! And, if you pick up a fur ball or two on your way out, even better!

  9. I volunteered at an animal hospital in central Missouri. It was a lot of fun and made me feel good when the dogs were excited to see you. They did not have enough space or supplies to take care of all the dogs. Thanks for bringing this to people attention.

    1. We are so lucky to have this wonderful facility in our city. They have a lot of room but even they can get overwhelmed when an animal hoarder is discovered. Fortunately, they have foster homes to take animals in when they run out of room. There is always a lot to do – I hope to be able to volunteer there soon. Until then, they will get my cash and towels donations.

  10. What a great idea to donate old towels and sheets to the humane society, Janis. I love that this is a no kill shelter. I hope to volunteer at one of these places one day, when we are in a bigger town long enough. Problem is that I would have a hard time leaving without a dog. So, maybe I should time that just right…:-) For all the people considering a pet: adopt, don’t shop!

    1. I was so happy to see all the people wondering around looking for a dog or cat to adopt. The older ones are especially in need of a forever home, and often they are the best behaved. It was hard not to bring a buddy home, but I have to wait a bit before I can… in the mean time, I’ll just visit.

  11. My wife volunteers at the local animal shelter. Her job is to play with the cats for an hour or so. It’s pleasant and she enjoys it. I came to pick her up one time because I needed to use the car, and it was my first time there. After she showed me her little cat area, she took me to the cages to see the dogs (I’m more of a dog person). OMG, I was struck with sadness. All of their faces told a story. I’ve never been back since. It’s good that you donate to them… – Marty

  12. Thanks for spreading the word about donating linens to animal shelters! I volunteer three times a week as a dog walker for our local humane society, which also does frequent large-scale rescues of animals in hoarding or puppy mill situations. So there is always a huge need for towels (any size from beach towel to face cloth) and sheets, and the donations are very much appreciated!

  13. Wonderful idea. But someone else will have to deliver. I can’t afford to adopt another pet, and I am putty in the paws of homeless dogs and cats.

  14. As someone mentioned, it didn’t occur to me either to donate old linens to speak. Next time! We’ve rescued our share of fur babies over the years. My brother in Lakeside used to regularly walk dogs at the shelter and always has a few dogs around at home.

  15. Over the years, I have adopted several cats from animal shelters, and taken in abandoned cats and one rescue dog. My daughter has been an SPCA volunteer. But I had never thought about taking towels and linens there; thanks for the great idea!


    1. Shelter animals make such wonderful pets; I couldn’t imagine purchasing through a breeder. I’m glad I could get the word out about donating linens – I assume the need for them is the same everywhere.

  16. What a wonderful post! I didn’t know about the sheets/towels. I’m going to call our local humane society now. We have a delightful one, and several of my friends volunteer there. I hate hearing the awful stories of abuse: to me, the abusers never get enough punishment. On the happy side, the adopted dogs/cats are SO happy when they find a home.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if your local shelter had the same need. It’s such a great way to repurpose items you no longer want. Stories of animal or elder abuse make me so angry; there isn’t a punishment that would be strong enough as far as I’m concerned.

  17. What a beautiful shelter for them. Thanks for thinking of the animals and taking the towels and linen as every thing helps in donations. Reading this was very uplifting tonight, Thanks.

    1. We are very lucky to have the Humane Society close by. They do a wonderful job – taking my used linens and writing a check to help them provide their services is the least I can do. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  18. The Humane Society and their volunteers are certainly worthy of gratitude. I’m too much of a softie to visit (must. not. bring. anyone. home.) or volunteer (I’m afraid someone tougher than I will have to spend time with the abused animals), but donating money and linens is always much easier, and gratefully accepted.

    The shelter you support is gorgeous! What lucky animals.
    I’ll wait and watch to see who goes home with you on a future visit!

    1. It was hard to leave there without a cat or two, but I’m pretty sure my husband wouldn’t have let me back in our house if I brought home a new friend. No pets until we stop traveling… that’s the agreement. But, you are right, there are so many other ways to help out.

      1. The ability to travel is the reason we are pet-free, as well. Our solution of pet-sitting has satisfied all of our needs for now!

  19. All of our cats and dogs have always been rescue animals. Even in Spain we adopted a stray cat and two dogs. One of the dogs we rescued from an awful dog pound and the other one was very ill and wondering the streets. We even took the last one home to Ireland with us when we moved back – he still hates the rain.

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