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Creating Pet Crafts for Animal Shelters

Earlier this month, we exhibited at a pet expo. The booth next to us was filled with adoptable dogs from a local shelter, one of many shelters and rescues at the event trying to draw attention to the many great pets looking for forever homes. Sometimes pets are overlooked either because of their coloring (black dogs and black cats are often passed by), their size, or because they’re in a crate or kennel:

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Getting people to stop and look at an adoptable pet is the first step in getting that pet adopted. Not every pet is right for every potential family, but to know for certain, people need to stop and visit the pet.

This is especially true when it comes to larger dogs, it’s often difficult to catch the eye of potential adopters — and that’s where items like “adopt me” vests and cute collar flowers come into play. Bright colors catch the eye of families, while soft collar flowers or pompoms tied to a collar make a dog look friendlier and more approachable.

It’s easy to craft items for your local shelter to help these pets find their forever home faster. Crafting not only keeps little restless hands busy during the hot “dog days of summer,” but also helps teach children the importance of caring for all animals, with or without homes. With just a few dollars and a few hours of work, you and your children can create great gift items for adoptable pets and shelters.

To get started, we went to our local Tuesday Morning store to find items for crafting and some easy-to-make gift baskets to make for our local shelter. Here are a few fun ideas for your next pet-inspired project:

“Adopt Me” Polo

We saw many, many dogs sporting “Adopt Me” vests at our recent expo and have seen them at numerous adoption events. Shelter staff and volunteers often walk the dogs throughout the crowds, using the vests as a way to let attendees know that this isn’t someone’s pet (at least not just yet!)

But a vest is just one option to help draw the eyes of potential adopters. You can craft an “Adopt Me” bandana or even an “Adopt Me” doggie polo shirt! I picked up a stamp kit especially made for fabric at my local Tuesday Morning store as well as a plain dog polo shirt. Using the kit, I painted the letter stamps …

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… and then pressed the stamp down onto the fabric …

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The shirt dried overnight, and then it was ready to go! This is a super fun craft to do with young pet lovers, and a great way to draw attention to adoptable pets.

“Adopt Me” Crate Mat

At adoption events, not every dog can walk around — and cats typically stay in their crates or carriers. Stamping a crate mat with “Adopt Me” in bright colors is a great way to draw attention to the pet inside the carrier, often hidden in the shadows!

Collar PomPoms

Another item we frequently see at adoption events is the collar flower, a crocheted yarn flower attached to a dog’s collar. It’s often used with large breed dogs to help them look more approachable. (Personally, I’m drawn to large dogs like our two, but one with a collar flower is even more irresistible!)

If you know how to crochet, you can whip up a collar flower in about 20 minutes but everyone — even the youngest of dog lovers — can create yarn pompoms that can be tied to a dog collar for the same effect.

Making a yarn pompom is fast and easy, and the perfect project for all members of your family. I used a spatula; for smaller pompoms, you can also use a fork. When I started, I threaded the yarn through a hole in the spatula, leaving about eight inches hanging, so I could later use this to tie off the pompom:

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Next, start wrapping. I wrapped 50 wraps around the spatula but the number you’ll complete will depend on the thickness of your yarn. When you’re done, gently slide the yarn off the spatula, putting your thumb in the middle of the loops to hold it together:

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Now you’ll use the hanging end you started with and pass it through the loops. Use the other loose end that you just cut off to pass through the loops in the opposite direction. When you’re done, bring the two ends together and tie them as tightly as you can in a square knot. With scissors, now cut all the loops apart:

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Finish out the pompom by trimming it so that all the threads are even and form a ball shape, leaving the two tied ends long so that you can tie it to a dog’s collar! (Note: while we love the pompoms for adoptable dogs, we don’t recommend them for cats. Unfortunately, cats love to play with yarn and the papillae that make their tongues so rough also make it impossible for them to get yarn out of their mouths. Ingested yarn can be very dangerous — so skip the pompoms and any yarn toys with cats.

“Clean Start” Gift Basket for Shelters

Don’t have time for crafting a gift? A shelter donation can be as easy as a gift basket!

We all know the challenge of keeping our pet homes clean of pet hair, tracked dirt and shed fur. Now multiply that challenge by dozens of animals, and you’ve got the cleaning work of a pet shelter. Keeping the shelter clean is an around-the-clock job, not only to make sure the shelter looks and smells clean to potential adopters, but also to keep the shelter animals clean and healthy.

You can assemble a “Clean Start” Gift Basket for just a few dollars, using both new and used products you might already have around your house. Here are a few ideas for your cleaning basket:

  • Pet-safe cleaning products
  • Inexpensive bleach, which is used by the gallon in shelters to disinfect floors, laundry and more.
  • Towels, either new or used. You can purchase new towels, kitchen towels and washcloths, or hit your linen closet for extras. Have used towels or washcloths you no longer need? Roll these up for your basket; they’ll be put to good use.
  • Mops
  • Brooms
  • Dustpans
  • Drain protector (great for keeping dog hair out of the drain!)
  • Scrubbing brushes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pampering hand soap, which will be a welcome change for shelter workers and volunteers who wash their hands a LOT, especially with hand sanitizers.

You can turn this basket into one the shelter employees will love even more with the addition of a bag of candy!

“Welcome Home” Gift Bags

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After making our “Adopt Me” polo, I used our stamping kit and some inexpensive bags to create “Welcome Home” gift bags that will make great goodies for a shelter to give a new pet parent after an adoption. I filled it with products that will welcome home a lucky cat or dog to their new home!

I hope you have as much fun making these items for your local animal shelter as I did! Looking for more ways to pamper pets? Visit our We Love Our Pets! pinboard for essentials like bedding, grooming supplies, toys, treats and more.

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