Studies show that generosity improves happiness, is good for your health, and fosters social connections. Want some of those feel-good benefits? Read on to discover pet-friendly ways to give back. Volunteer or Donate Consider spending an afternoon working at a shelter. Many rely on volunteers to help keep things running, and a few hours spent walking dogs, answering phones, or cleaning kennels will be greatly appreciated. Or donate items — like food, blankets, toys, and cleaning supplies — to your local shelter. This helps ensure they have the products they need to care for their animals. If you’re interested in donating, check with your local shelter to see which items they need most. Provide Pet Therapy and Education Animals can bring joy to those in need, like patients at hospitals and residents of assisted living facilities. They can also serve as a teaching tool at schools, libraries, and day cares. One organization that offers pet therapy certification for dogs, cats, and rabbits is Love on a Leash. After completing an evaluation and a series of supervised visits, you’ll be certified to provide pet therapy at a Love on a Leash chapter near you. Some libraries and schools offer “read to a dog” programs, which allow kids to improve their reading, comprehension, and communication skills by reading out loud to a furry friend. Intermountain Therapy Animals has a program called R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs), which provides everything you need to become a R.E.A.D. team member and find a program affiliate near you. Foster a Dog or Cat When you foster a pet, you give them a loving place to live until they find their forever home and free up shelter space to take in another animal. Talk to your local shelter about the requirements and additional details if you’re interested in fostering. You can also take in the pet of someone on active duty or leaving an abusive relationship. Dogs on Deployment finds temporary homes for the pets of military servicemen and women. And Safe Place for Pets offers information on how you can foster the pets of domestic violence survivors while they find a safe home of their own. Visit their websites to learn how to become a foster home for these pets and discover other ways you can offer support. Craft for Pets A number of charities create and donate handcrafted items for pets. The Hug Society’s Snuggles Project provides comfort to shelter animals through handmade blankets. Whether you knit, crochet, or sew, consider creating a blanket and donating to this organization. Their website provides everything you need to get started, including blanket size guidelines, simple patterns, and information on where to donate. Comfort for Critters also accepts handmade blankets, as well as yarn and fleece donations. Founded in 2007, the organization has donated more than 87,000 blankets to animal shelters across the United States. Their website features free patterns, instructions on how to donate, and a list of participating shelters.