Our pets give to us all the time. They give us affection, entertainment, and comfort (and sometimes hair, slobber, and other gifts). But how can we give back to them?
First of all, take care of the animals you have. Make sure they go to the vet regularly for checkups, stay on any needed medication, and have good food and grooming care. But beyond that, there are several things you can do.
Volunteer at your local humane society. Many of them run on donations, and workers either aren't paid or work for minimum wage. Sometimes they just need people to walk, feed, and play with the animals there. They often need supplies too. Towels, cleaning supplies, food, and money are all usually needed.
Don't forget about local rescue groups too. They usually use foster homes, and don't have a central building like the humane society does. They usually run completely on donations, so help at any time of the year is welcome.
There are also ways you can use your pets to give back to people. If you have a well behaved animal you may take them to visit people who don't have many visitors. There are special programs, like Hand In Paw, Therapaws, and West Michigan Therapy Dogs, Inc, who train dogs to visit hospital patients to provide comfort and stimulation. These dogs go through behavior and health evaluations to make sure they are a good fit for the program.
If you're still looking for ways to give back either with or to animals, check with your local veterinarians. They may be able to guide you in the right direction, and they can also help you make sure you're giving your pet everything they need.