Animal lovers, take note—opportunities abound for you to assist the vision impaired, military veterans and others who could use some creature comfort.
It all started 20 years ago, when Nina and Jeff Kellogg’s 7-year-old son, James, asked for a dog. That seemingly simple request led to two decades of the Katonah, NY, family volunteering for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, an international nonprofit that provides guide dogs to people with vision loss. Long story short, a friend suggested they think about brood fostering—providing a safe, loving home to a female being bred specifically to provide future generations of guide dogs. Happily, the whole gang got involved: Nina, Jeff, James and daughter Alice, then 9 years old, all participated in the application interview. “It was a family commitment, and the kids embraced that,” says Nina. “It just seemed to be what was right for us.” Soon after they started fostering Chauncey, an energetic black Lab.
Fast-forward: The Kelloggs have fostered five mothers full-time and helped raise 40 litters of puppies. (They don’t know the exact total, but with an average litter numbering seven, the ballpark figure is almost 300!) The best part with every litter is knowing many of the puppies will graduate and become trained guide dogs. “It’s unbelievably rewarding,” Jeff says. “They’re going to change people’s lives.”
For more information about Guiding Eyes for the Blind, go to guidingeyes.org.
More Ways to Help
If you have a soft spot for animals, search online for local volunteer opportunities like these.
PATH International Horse lovers can pitch in through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, which has more than 850 member centers around the U.S. pathintl.org
DoSomething.org Possibilities through this youth volunteering website include becoming a “pet publicist” for adoptable animals or making dog toys for shelters. There are options for all ages, interests and desired time commitments. dosomething.org
Pets for Vets Foster pets or assist with dog training through this organization, which provides companion animals to military veterans. pets-for-vets.com
Pet Partners Volunteer with your pet by becoming a therapy animal team and help veterans with PTSD, seniors with Alzheimer’s and patients in recovery. Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds and guinea pigs are all eligible. petpartners.org
Best Friends Animal Society This Utah-based animal welfare group hosts fundraisers around the country that families can participate in together. Their Strut Your Mutt dog walks and 5Ks—no pooch required—take place in various cities every fall. bestfriends.org