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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.

Featured products: Scribbles Alpha Stamp Kit $8.99 (compare at $19.99); East Side dog polo $4.99 (compare at $9.99); Animal Planet crate mat $19.99 (compare at $39.99); Lion Brand Yarns $2.99 (compare at $6.49); KitchenAid scissors $6.99 (compare at $12.99); Bow Wow Tissue Paper, $0.99 (compare at $2.75); NOLA Parfume luxury hand soap $4.99 (compare at $15); Drain Protector $0.99 (compare at $2.99); Scrub brush $2.99 (compare at $6.99); Apothecary hand wash $4.99 (compare at $9.99); Abbey & Sullivan Multi-Purpose Cleaner $4.99 (compare at $9.99); BWC Chic Chenille Mop $7.99 (compare at $17.99); Tidy broom $9.99 (compare at $24.99); gift bag $0.99 (compare at $1.99); pet waste bags $3.99 (compare at $9.99); Play Squeak cat toy $2.99 (compare at $7.99); Happy Tails toy $5.99 (compare at $14.99); SmartyKat wand $1.99 (compare at $5.99); Puppy Health chews $4.99 (compare at $8.99); GoDog dog toy $5.99 (compare at $14.99); LED cat light toy $1.49 (compare at $3); Burt’s Bees hypoallergenic wipes $6.99 (compare at $11.99); Skinnees Shakers dog toy $4.99 (compare at $9.99); AKC dog lead $4.99 (compare at $14.99).

Craft Supplies, Outdoor, Pets
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Paris Permenter

Meet the Contributor

Blog: Dogtipper

My home Tuesday Morning location: Burnet Road in Austin, Texas

My favorite Tuesday Morning department: Pets!

A little about me: I love animals! My husband, John Bigley, and I share our home with two large mixed-breed dogs, Irie and Tiki, and four cats — Linus, Lucky, Inca, and Coco. I’ve been a pet lover my entire life, but six years ago, the adoption of our dogs inspired me to change careers. Previously, John and I had been travel guidebook writers, but Irie and Tiki motivated us to find a way to stay home more and incorporate our love of pets into our careers. We launched DogTipper.com, followed by CatTipper.com, to help fellow pet lovers make the most of their lives with their pets even if their budget’s on a short leash. Soon I became a certified dog trainer, and there’s been no looking back. This past year, we combined our love of travel and our love for pets into our first pet travel guidebook.

What I love to write about: I love to write about ways pet lovers can incorporate their pets into their lives, whether that’s traveling with them, enriching their lives with training and play, or even cooking for them. Every day our dogs and cats teach me new lessons!

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13 Comments

  1. Reply Donna Wirthlin

    Very good ideas! We have a shelter dog we adopted last winter–the only way to go. Thanks for your post.

    • Reply Benita Bryant

      Good for you, Donna. I, too, adopted a shelter dog three years ago from a shelter located in South Elgin, IL. I always like to tell people that instead of rescuing her, she rescued me instead.

  2. Reply Elizabeth Vitek

    So many great ideas to help shelter pets! Even if you are not able to volunteer directly, you can use your personal set of skills and talents to help shelter animals find good homes. Thank you for the post, and thank you Tuesday Morning for supporting homeless pets!

  3. Reply Kristen K

    Thank you so much for this cool post about helping shelter and rescue dogs get adopted! They are the bets dogs and cats ever!!!

  4. Reply Ann Tancrelle

    How come with all your pet products at your stores, you do not let little dogs (one in purses) come in your store. My dog who weighs only 7 lbs. stays in his carrier and I was told I had to take him out. Very sad. I then left the store. Just wondering.

    • Tuesday Morning
      Reply Tuesday Morning

      We haven’t yet taken a corporate position and have allowed the majority sentiment of the local community to prevail in regards to allowing pets in our stores. If any local statutes exist that address the issue, we comply accordingly. We’ll continue to consider our customers’ preferences when making decisions about whether or not to allow leashed dogs into our stores. Thank you for your input!

  5. Reply Lynn

    What great ideas!! Looking for something to do for the shelter with the kids at church as the pompous sound like a great idea! Thank you!!

  6. Reply Amy Wilsch

    why did I even bother to comment if you’re not going to post it? ugh

  7. Reply Lisa Cunningham

    do you have some nice salt and pepper shakers, I really need some?

  8. Reply Karen Morris

    I just loved you cute idea for dogs that need to be adopted! As a dog lover and owner of 3 wonderful Bichon Frise precious darlings who I just adore and they are not only bring joy to me but lots of children who need just to look a them to get give them s smile, or a kiss from one to let them know all will be better. I live in Between New Braunfels and Seguin on Lake Dunlap on the Guadalupe River and am now retired with my husband. I read your beautiful blog and the work you do and I felt the wonderful Humane Shelter by me could use more than the toys and beds I have taken to them. YOU gave me the ideas and inspiration I need to now make a difference in my area! Thank You! I am now on a mission and off to get my neighbors aboard! I will keep you posted!
    Sincerely, Karen Morris New Braunfels, Texas

  9. Reply ROXANNE

    i’m SO glad i opened Tuesday Morning’s email today, Dec. 11th. NEVER thought about gifts for the Shelter Need-A-Home Pets AND Staff. HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO DENSE??? i’m a totally Animals First person! my 3 cats … Maggie 10 y.o., Maxx almost 2 & Daisy 1-1/2… are all rescued kitties. and i love them more than ANYthing! and i LOVE dogs, too. i wish i could have one or two. ANYWAY… going to send some Shari’s Berries or SEEs Candy to the staff & have a ton of items for the pets. Thank you, Tuesday Morning. i LOVE you, too!

  10. Reply Barb Flowers

    Your little add on the latest Tuesday Morning newsletter got my attention, because like you I am a dog lover (cat’s are out of my league because of huge allergies to them). I sew for a company here in Colorado called Barking Bitches (barkingbitches.com). Right now I am making doggie bandannas for an upcoming charity event for children with cancer. We will be outfitting several service dogs. My biggest challenge is to make a bandanna for the Denver Broncos (I know you have heard of them) team mascot, a gorgeous Arabian horse named Thunder. You have some terrific ideas and I know any shelter would appreciate your efforts. I volunteered with the Dumb Friends League here in Denver for YEARS and I had a blast. Keep up the good work. If you are ever in the Denver area, would love to share a cuppa coffee with you and your husband!

    Take care & God bless
    Barb

  11. Reply Lorraine

    Thanks for some great ideas. I really liked the pom pom idea. I work with spca and a breed specific rescue group (bassets) and always looking for ways to enhance the adoptive dog, especially the older dogs.