So, you want to help animals in your own community, but just aren’t sure where to begin? Well, the good news is there are many ways an animal lover can make a difference. From assisting in the care and placement of shelter animals to educating the public on animal welfare issues to fighting for stronger animal legislation—here are nine ways you can make a difference for animals in your community.
Learn how to report animal cruelty. One of the best things you can do to help animals in your community is to keep a list of people, including a humane law enforcement officer, a teacher or your veterinarian, who can help you report animal cruelty. Every state is different. In some areas, the police department investigates animal cruelty; in others, that job falls to local animal control or another municipal agency. If you aren't sure where to report cruelty, visit our Report Animal Cruelty section .
Start a neighborhood watch program. Get to know the animals in your neighborhood and invite your friends and neighbors to do the same. Together you can keep an eye out for any suspicious behaviors—abuse and neglect of companion animals, the mistreatment of local wildlife, dogs left in hot cars and other signs of abuse .
Volunteer at your local shelter or animal rescue organization. Volunteering at your local shelter is a great way to make a difference in the lives of many animals. From walking dogs and organizing fundraising events to fostering abused or frightened animals, shelters across the country are in desperate need of volunteers. Be sure to visit our Ten Ways to Help Your Local Shelter  for more suggestions.
Become an animal activist. Visit our lobby section  to find out everything you can do to raise awareness for animal rights.
- Call or write your local law enforcement officials. Let them know that animal cruelty is a crime and investigating these cases should be a priority.
- Help fight for the passage of strong anti-cruelty laws on federal, state and local levels by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade . As a brigade member, you’ll receive emails asking you to contact your legislators and encourage them to pass these laws—and you can do so directly from our website.
Help your neighbors help their animals. Companion animals play significant roles in the lives of the people who love them—but sometimes the elderly or ill have trouble providing essential pet care. If you see a neighbor in need, offer to assist—walk his dog, help with feeding, clean litter boxes, groom animals, pick up pet food and other supplies, drive him to the veterinarian, etc.
Start a pet food bank. See if there is a pet food pantry in your area and volunteer your time to help distribute the much-needed pet food. If there isn’t, consider starting one up. Host pet food drives, similar to canned food drives, in central locations of your community such as shopping centers and schools. For more detailed information on starting a pet food bank, visit Animal Shelter Tips .
Promote spaying and neutering. Millions of adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters every year. By spaying and neutering your animals, you’ll make sure you are not contributing to the problem. You can also take this a step further by developing a spay/neuter outreach program in your community. Visit our Spay/Neuter Database  to see who in your community offers low-cost spay/neuter programs. Create flyers promoting the organizations that offer discounts in your area and pass them out at central locations in your community.
Clean up for wildlife. Wild animals need protection, too. Birds, mammals and reptiles are often injured or killed by the trash we throw away. Help implement a cleanup and recycling plan in your community by organizing weekend trash cleanups in local parks, roadsides and forests.
Become an ASPCA Ambassador and fundraise for animals. ASPCA Ambassadors create their own grassroots events and invite friends and family to become sponsors on behalf of the ASPCA. Whether you decide to run a marathon for animals, plan a pet parade or have an orange bake sale, your grassroots fundraising efforts will help us achieve our goal to end animal cruelty and find permanent, loving homes for America’s adoptable pets. Once your plans are in place, register your unique event on the ambassador site  to share with animal lovers everywhere.