Ways to help animal shelters in San Diego

If you’re not in a position to adopt a pet right now, there are many ways to help local animal nonprofits

Tulip the dog wearing a flower necklace.

Tulip stayed in a county shelter before finding her home.

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San Diego has many animals looking for homes, and the County’s Department of Animal Services is waiving adoption fees on all pets this month, as local shelters are nearly at capacity.

While not everyone may be in a position to adopt an animal, there are other opportunities to help. We’ve rounded up a variety of ways to improve the lives of local furry (and sometimes scaly) friends.

Become a foster

If you have space in your home, you can help by opening your doors to a foster pet for a short time — generally until they find their forever home or shelter space is available. Many local shelters offer foster programs, including:

Kitten with a bottle of milk

San Diego Humane Society helps to nurse kittens before they find a loving home.


Caring for animals takes time and patience, but you’ll be paid in love. All organizations offer care opportunities that include feeding animals, cleaning, and helping them stretch their paws with exercise. You may also find positions for specialized skills, like:

  • If you have experience with horses, consider Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Equine Hospital or Therapeutic Riding opportunities.
  • Help with data entry, writing, or social media at The Barking Lot.
  • Enroll your dog — and help the community — in San Diego Humane Society’s Animal Ambassador program.

Animal shelters require funding and supplies to help provide services to pets. Monetary donations are always appreciated, but there are other ways to contribute. For example, Rancho Coastal Humane Society has a thrift shop where you can donate items for resale, San Diego Humane Society accepts new or gently used pet supplies, or county offers pet lover’s license plates.