There are many cats and dogs in local animal shelters who would love to be a part of your household. If you want to and are able to share your home with a pet, please save an animal who desperately needs a home. You'll have a friend for life.
When choosing a pet, please do not let age be a factor. Yes, baby kittens are adorable, but so are older pets. The adoption rate of adult cats and dogs is much lower than that of the newborns and toddlers, so to speak. Just because a shelter pet is older doesn't mean it has had a hard life; perhaps he had a great life until his owners discovered their child was allergic to dogs. Just because a shelter pet is older doesn't mean she is ill or bad-tempered; perhaps she is the very picture of health and manners, but hasn't found the right human yet.
Perhaps that human is you.
You'd be shocked by how many people think non-humans are disposable. They aren't. I value all forms of life. A cat isn't a dog and a little girl isn't a bunny, but they are all animals. People are animals too. Don't forget that.
If you have some spare change, consider donating it to a shelter - especially a no-kill shelter. You'd be surprised how little it takes to save a life.
If you cannot adopt pets or do not have the funds to make a monetary donation, you can give them attention and love by donating your time and being a volunteer. You will bring some light into their lives, and they will do the same for you. Call your local animal shelter and ask if there is a volunteer program or donation system in place.
I also encourage you to donate your blankets to shelters. Such a simple gesture, easy to make, yet not often considered. Think of how cold it gets at night. Be thankful if you have a home and a bed to sleep in, because you're luckier than many others. If you have a heater, a thick comforter, and warm clothing, you're luckier still. Just because an animal has fur doesn't mean he or she is warm. Many animal shelters do not have adequate heating. Many do not have enough beds to go around, let alone blankets. Kitties won't mind if there are cartoons on their sheets, and neither do hounds. Neither will people, for that matter. If you find you have an abundance of old bedclothes, donate some to an animal shelter and some to a shelter for displaced persons. (Please wash your old blankets before donating them.)
One last thing: If you have pets at home already (or after acting on the recommendations in this post), please do me a favor and pet them for me.
This post is in memory of my cats. I miss you!
Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month and National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week
Help the ASPCA
ASPCA video with Sarah McLachlan
The Pedigree Adoption Drive
Shelter Stories from Patrick McDonnell
One of Patrick's comic strips