Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit Introduction

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The backs of four people as they are advocating for animals in a neighborhood

Note: This is a chapter in the Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit.

A guide to creating compassionate communities for pets and people


Why everyday people are the key to saving pets in animal shelters

From viral cat videos to heartwarming stories about kids reading to their dogs, Americans love pets. Each year, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on dog walkers, pet spas, gourmet food, professional pet photos, pet-friendly hotel rooms, cat apps for our phones and monogrammed dog beds. Whether you live in a rural community in Iowa, a college town in Texas, a retirement community in Florida or a high-rise in Los Angeles or New York, you see pets every day and can appreciate the unconditional love and joy that they bring to our lives. Because of that, most of us easily agree that dogs and cats deserve compassion and a good quality of life.

Community organizing efforts to save dogs and cats in shelters

In the 1980s, an estimated 17 million pets were killed every year in America’s animal shelters simply because they didn’t have safe places to call home. Last year, that number was around 400,000. We’ve made tremendous progress, but more than 1,000 dogs and cats are still being killed every day in shelters. Together, we can change that. Individuals and organizations around the country are coming together to take collective responsibility for the welfare of pets in their communities.

Advocating for compassionate communities for pets and people

This manual offers a blueprint for organizing people to save dogs and cats in communities of all shapes and sizes throughout the country. No individual organization, including an animal shelter, can or should be solely responsible for the welfare of local pets. Only by working together can community members and stakeholders ensure that every pet who can be saved is saved and given a safe place to call home.

A well-organized community equipped with the right resources can effectively share critical information, work collaboratively with local animal shelters and other community organizations, and advocate for humane policies and legislation. Learn more about the goal to achieve no-kill nationwide by 2025 and join the 2025 Action Team today to help pets and people in your own community.

In addition to this manual, here are two key resources to use as you need them once you have connected with your local animal shelters and your advocacy efforts are up and running:

Animal services are human services. From providing affordable veterinary care for dogs and cats to creating animal-friendly ordinances and outreach that help people keep their pets at home, addressing animal-related issues is essential to the health and well-being of every community. And when passionate individuals armed with the right information engage on behalf of pets, elected officials and other decision-makers will listen.

Together, we can create compassionate, no-kill communities nationwide for dogs and cats and the people who love them.

These 10 chapters make up the Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit:

Download the Grassroots Advocacy Tool Kit (PDF 4.25 MB)