Shelter and Animal-Related Holidays and Observances

Introduction

Shelter and animal-related holidays and observances provide a wonderful opportunity for shelters to educate their community and/or raise funds or promote adoptions to continue saving lives. Following is a round-up of shelter or animal-related holidays and observances broken down by month.


January

National Walk Your Pet Month – January is a great time for shelters to educate the public about the health benefits of walking dogs while encouraging volunteers to drop by and take shelter dogs for a walk.

Unchain a Dog Month – This is a good time to educate the public about the damaging physical and psychological effects of chaining dogs.

Change a Pet’s Life Day (Jan. 24) – Use this day to encourage people to make a difference in the life of a shelter pet by adopting, fostering, or sponsoring. Posting photos of families with their adopted pets can encourage others to visit the shelter to find their new best friend.

February

Responsible Pet Owners Month – Animal shelters can use this month to offer important pet care tips and help people take better care of their animal companions.

Spay/Neuter Awareness Month and World Spay Day (last Tuesday in February) – This is the perfect time to educate people about the benefits of spaying and neutering. Be sure to remind them that pet overpopulation is the reason shelters nationwide are full.

National Justice for Animals Week (Feb. 19 – 25) – If you see something, say something is as true for animal cruelty as it is for other crimes. During this week shelters can educate the public about how to report cruelty to animals in their local community.

National Love Your Pet Day (Feb. 20) – Shelters can use this day to encourage pet parents and followers to spread their love to include homeless animals by donating money, supplies, or time to the shelter.

National Walk Your Dog Day (Feb. 22) – In addition to educating the community about the health benefits of walking dogs, shelters can use this day to encourage volunteers to come and walk shelter dogs.

March

National Pet Poison Prevention Month – Educating the public on responsible pet ownership is all part of the service shelters can provide to the local community. The ASPCA offers a wide selection of materials to help increase awareness of the dangers of poisoning.

National Pet Vaccination Month – This is a great time to educate the public about the importance of staying current on pet vaccinations and offering a link to Petco Love’s list of free vaccination clinics nationwide.

National Puppy Day (March 23) – In addition to celebrating the pups in our lives this observance aims to educate people about the horrors of puppy mills and promote the adoption of puppies from shelters and rescues. This is also a good day for the shelter to appeal to the community to help get puppies out of the shelter by fostering them in their homes.

April

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month – Another opportunity to discuss crimes committed against animals and what people can do to help protect them. The ASPCA offers great ideas on how people can make a difference for animals all month long.

World Stray Animal Day (April 4) – Shelters know all about caring for stray animals. Use this day to offer tips on preventing pets from escaping, locating missing pets, and what to do if you find a stray pet.

National Dog Fighting Awareness Day (April 8) – Shelters can join the ASPCA on this day in raising awareness of the prevalence of dog fighting in the U.S. and encouraging animal lovers nationwide to take action against this brutal form of animal cruelty.

National Heartworm Awareness Month – Shelters can use this month to educate pet owners about this devastating disease, how it is spread, and the importance of having pets on a preventative.

National Pet Day (April 11) – Shelters can celebrate this holiday with supporters by asking them to post images and share stories about the pets they adopted from the shelter.

Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week (second full week of April) – This initiative was inspired by the National Animal Care and Control Association as a way to recognize the valuable contributions of animal control officers and staff in caring for animals. Animal control officers work closely with shelters and this is a good time to remind people of the important role these personnel play in the local community. In addition to thanking animal control officers for their service, the Petersburgh Animal Shelter, VA observes this week by asking followers to donate needed items for shelter pets in honor of their local animal control officers.

National Pet Parents Day (last Sunday in April) – This holiday was launched by Veterinary Pet Insurance to celebrate the special bond between the company’s clients and their pets. It’s a great day for shelters to share fun ways that pet parents can enjoy the day with their animal companions and to celebrate and thank pet parents who adopted animals from shelters.

National Scoop the Poop Week (April 23-29) – Shelters play an important role in educating the public about responsible pet ownership. Posting graphics about why pet parents should pick up after their dogs will go a long way in protecting the environment and keeping the neighborhood clean.

Adopt a Shelter Pet Day (April 30) – This day was created to remind people nationwide to open their hearts and homes to shelter pets. It’s can also a good time to remind people that fostering is a great option for those who can’t make a longtime commitment to a shelter pet. Staff at the Butler County Animal Shelter observed this special day by taking shelter dogs to visit with kids at the local library during story time. The kids learned about the importance of adopting homeless animals, watched a movie on pet socialization, and enjoyed other animal-related activities.

May

National Pet Foster Care Month – Shelters can use this month to educate the public about the importance of fostering pets for their safety and well-being. Throughout the month shelters can highlight pets in foster homes and the families who care for them. This may inspire others to adopt or become temporary caretakers.

National Pet Month – Invite social media followers to share photos of their pets while partnering with local businesses to encourage the adoption of shelter pets and the donation of funds to help these animals.

Pet Cancer Awareness MonthPetco Love and Blue Buffalo have invested millions in the fight against pet cancer. Shelters can provide links to these organizations to help educate pet owners about signs and symptoms of cancer in pets and treatment options.

Puppy Mill Action Week (starts the Monday before Mother’s Day) – This week was chosen by the HSUS to honor the mother dogs who are bred relentlessly and often in deplorable conditions. Shelters can play an important role in educating the public about the cruelty of puppy mills and the importance of adopting from shelters or rescues.

Be Kind to Animals Week (first full week in May starting on a Sunday) – This celebration is an initiative of American Humane. The organization offers wonderful tips and resources that shelters can use to help encourage kindness to animals.

National Chihuahua Day (May 14) – The Butler County Animal Shelter used this holiday to engage followers to share photos of their Chihuahuas or Chichi mixes. They got a great response with plenty of rescued little guys in the mix.

National Rescue Dog Day (May 20) – Shelters can participate in National Rescue Dog Day events held nationwide by reaching out to local sponsors. Shelters can also organize their own events as a way to promote dogs for adoption and raise funds.

June

National Foster a Pet MonthPetco Love offers a wide variety of tips on how to celebrate this holiday and use it to promote fostering and celebrate foster families.

Social PETworking MonthAdopt A Pet offers tips on challenging people to use this month to promote shelter pets.

July

National Lost Pet Prevention Month – This is a great time of the year to remind supporters about the importance of microchipping pets and also offer tips on what to do if you lose a pet and what actions to take if you find a stray pet. The Butler County Animal Shelter observed this month by reminding pet parents that the shelter provides free microchipping for all Butler County.

National Feed a Rescued Pet Week (July 16-22) – This initiative was launched in 2017 by Greater Good Charities and The Animal Rescue Site as a way to alert animal lovers to the fact that food is one of the most vital needs at animal shelters nationwide. Shelters can join forces with these organizations or run their own food donation campaign on social media.

National Craft for Your Local Shelter Day (July 21) – The Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh offers 10 great ways to craft for your local shelter. This is a wonderful list that shelters can share with supporters as a way to keep the community engaged in helping shelter animals.

National Mutt Day (July 31 and December 2) – Created in 2005 by animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige this holiday is also known as National Mixed Breed Dog Day. Shelters can use these special dates to educate the public about all the benefits of adopting and living with mixed-breed dogs. It’s also a great time to encourage supporters to share images and stories of their mixed-breed rescues helping to inspire others to adopt.

August

DOGust Day (Aug. 1) – This is the universal birthday for rescue dogs who don’t have a known date of birth. It’s a great time for shelters to invite adopters to share photos and stories about their rescued pets helping to encourage pet adoptions. It’s also a great time for dog owners to celebrate their rescued dog’s birthday by giving back to the shelter where he/she was adopted.

International Homeless Animals Day (third Saturday in Aug.) – This special day is an initiative of the International Society for Animal Rights with a mission to raise awareness about how people can help homeless animals. It is honored by shelters in a variety of ways including hosting adoption fairs, dog walks, and spay and neuter clinics.

National Animal Foster Appreciation Week (Aug. 21 – 27) – Use this week to thank current foster volunteers and to promote the huge benefits of fostering shelter pets for both the animals and the volunteers.

National Dog Day (Aug. 26) – Shelters can invite supporters to share images of their adopted pets and encourage donations to help animals still waiting for their forever homes.

September

National Dog Walker Appreciation Day (Sept. 8) – While this holiday was launched to recognize professional dog walkers, it’s a great opportunity for shelters to highlight and thank volunteers who walk shelter dogs. Posting cute images on social media of volunteers walking or hanging out with dogs can go a long way in encouraging others to get involved. Walking is a great enrichment activity for the dogs and gives them a break from the kennels.

Remember Me Thursday (observed the fourth Thursday in September) – This is an international social media awareness day launched in honor of animal companions who never knew a loving forever home. Founded by the Helen Woodward Animal Center there are many ways that shelters can observe this special day while working to end pet euthanasia.

Puppy Mill Awareness Day (third Saturday in September) – Shelters can use this day to educate the community about the thousands of dogs suffering in heartbreaking conditions in puppy mills across the country. The ASPCA’s Barred From Love Campaign encourages people to stay informed and fight for the right of pippy mill dogs.

Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week (third week in September) – Petfinder established Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week to help highlight shelter pets who are constantly overlooked by potential adopters. In honor of these pets, shelters can post cute images and fun personality profiles of their longest residents. Posting images of how well previously overlooked pets are doing in their new homes can also encourage others to open their hearts and homes to pets in need.

October

Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month – This observance offers a perfect opportunity for shelters to share on social media the benefits of adopting a shelter dog and post happy tails stories and photos from adopters. Be sure to link to great images and catchy personality profiles of dogs waiting for loving homes.

National Animal Safety and Protection Month – Shelters play a vital role in promoting responsible pet ownership within the community. Throughout the month of October shelters can post important pet health and safety tips on social media. Posting catchy infographics can help get a message shared while also promoting the shelter.

National Pit Bull Awareness Month – Unfortunately these wonderful dogs are often overlooked by potential adopters. Shelters can use this month to dispel the myths about this breed while shining a light on the wonderful dogs awaiting homes in their facilities. Offering special services such as low cost microchipping for bully breeds throughout October is another great way to honor these dogs.

Blessing of the Animals (Oct. 4) – St. Francis of Assisi (patron saint of animals) Day falls on Oct. 4 but many shelters host a Blessing of the Animals throughout the month of October. This is a great way to welcome the community and their well-behaved pets to the shelter for a special event. Visitors can be asked to bring along donations for the shelter animals.

Make a Difference Day (Oct. 24) – This is a perfect day to let the community know how they can help shelter animals. Highlight the volunteer opportunities available to individuals and groups and encourage posts from current volunteers about why they help the shelter.

November

National Adopt a Senior Pet Month – It’s a sad fact that senior pets are often overlooked at animal shelters nationwide. The ASPCA and Petfinder.com founded Adopt a Senior Pet Month to raise awareness about this issue and encourage people to open their hearts and homes to older animals. Throughout November shelters can highlight senior residents through heartwarming videos and images. It’s also a great time to share happy ever after stories of senior adoptions to help get these sweet dogs out of the shelter and into loving homes.



National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week (first full week of November) – This special week was established by the HSUS to acknowledge the amazing service local animal shelters provide to their communities. It’s meant to remind the public to show their appreciation by reaching out to help their local shelters. Many shelters also use this week to extend a special note of thanks to all the volunteers, fosters, transporters, and rescues who work with them to save lives. It’s also a great time to share the shelter’s wish list and remind people how they can join in the mission to help animals.

December

National Mutt Day (December 2 and July 31) – Created in 2005 by animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige this holiday is also known as National Mixed Breed Dog Day. Shelters can use these special dates to educate the public about all the benefits of adopting and living with mixed-breed dogs. It’s also a great time to encourage supporters to share images and stories of their mixed-breed rescues helping to inspire others to adopt.

International Volunteer Day (Dec. 5) – This is the perfect time of year to thank loyal supporters for always being there for the animals. It’s also a great opportunity to remind others about all the different roles volunteers play and let them know that newcomers are always needed and welcome.


International Day of Veterinary Medicine (Dec. 9) – Shelters work very closely with their local veterinary community. Some are lucky enough to have vets on staff while others have partnerships with animal hospitals that offer low-cost medical or boarding services to shelter animals. This holiday provides a great opportunity to say thanks on social media to the vets and vet technicians who do so much to help shelter pets.

International Animal Rights Day (Dec. 10) – Animal companions have a right to loving homes. Shelters can use this day to encourage people to honor animals by adopting from a shelter, fostering a homeless pet, or donating to help shelters continue saving lives. Inviting adopters to share stories and images of the difference rescued pets have made in their lives can help encourage others to adopt their next animal companion.

Other Holiday Promotional Ideas

Amazon Prime Day (differs from year to year)

Amazon Prime Day typically serves as a warm-up to Black Friday and offers Prime members special deals leading up to the holidays. This promotion offers shelters a wonderful opportunity to ask Prime shoppers to think of homeless animals as they place their online orders. Shelters with an Amazon Wishlist make it easier for shoppers to include the shelter in their online shopping sprees.

Make-A-Will Month (August)

Make-A-Will Month is a great time to remind pet parents how important it is to include animal companions in legacy plans should they outlive their owners. Without a legacy plan life savings will be distributed according to the laws of their state and not their wishes. If plans aren’t made for the care of pets, they may very well end up in the local shelter. This is also a good time to remind supporters that including their favorite animal rescue groups in their legacy plans is a great way to help organizations continue saving lives.

National Peanut Butter Lovers Day (March 1) – Nobody enjoys peanut butter more than dogs. Shelters across the country stuff enrichment toys with this treat or use it for training. This is the perfect day to ask for donations of jars of peanut butter or to highlight dogs for adoption by posting videos showing them enjoying a peanut butter treat.

Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14)

This holiday is a great way for shelters to promote the special bond between people and pets while reminding the community of all the homeless animals just waiting to share their love.