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10 awesome animal charities you might not know about

Some animal charities get all the attention—Best Friends Animal Society, The Gentle Barn, the WWF—and for good reason. But there are also plenty of other revolutionary individuals dedicating their inspiration and perspiration to helping animals in unique ways and truly making a difference in animals’ lives. Here, I spotlight a few pioneering animal charities and cutting-edge programs that you might not know about:

1. Wildlife Rescue Nests partners with knitters and crocheters to create warm, handmade nests that are then donated to wildlife rescues worldwide. Here’s a helpful video on how to knit a nest for baby birds, bunnies and other creatures in need:

2. Shelter Buddies Reading Program, an innovative campaign started by the Humane Society of Missouri, brings schoolchildren into the shelter to read to available dogs. Everyone wins: The dogs calm down and gain important experience spending time with children, adoption rates rise, and the kids get a lesson in empathy. Here’s a heartful video of the children and dogs together (sniff):

3. The Rescue Animal MP3 Project, launched by a holistic veterinarian, brings soothing music into shelters nationwide, calming even the most anxious, stressed-out dogs.

4. Pawsthetics: This brand-new charity, a collaboration between The 3D Printing Store and TurboRoo Designs, aims to provide 3D printed prosthetic limbs to animals in need. Here’s the beautiful story of TurboRoo the chihuahua, the first dog to walk with a 3D printed cart and the one who inspired it all.

5. Merlin’s Kids helps animals and children by rescuing dogs from shelters and then training them as service animals to help children with special needs.

6. Senior animals in shelters are often the forgotten ones—but thanks to the dedicated volunteers at Muttville, they’re cherished and loved. Even more impressive, the organization’s Fospice Program finds loving foster homes for senior dogs suffering from terminal illnesses.

7. Therapy Dogs International tests and registers dogs to become therapy dogs for use in hospitals, schools, nursing homes and other settings (such as helping schoolchildren following the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting of 2012). This photo essay shows the dogs’ remarkable power after a devastating tornado struck Oklahoma:

8. Sentient Creatures is the only group dedicated to rescuing “abandoned, abused and neglected ‘junkyard dogs’ ” in Harlem. Since its inception in 1994, more than 3,500 dogs have found loving homes.

9. Hemopet’s founder thought, “Why don’t we have a Red Cross for animals?” And so she started a national blood bank and greyhound rescue licensed by the state of California. The donor dogs, rescued from shelters, give blood for 18 months and then are adopted out to loving families. Today, Hemopet’s blood bank products save the lives of dogs throughout North America.

10. I also want to take this opportunity to give a shout out to my own animal charity, which I co-founded with Leah D’Ambrosio in 2008: the Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA), which brings animal Reiki programs to shelters and sanctuaries worldwide. SARA aims to boost adoption rates by reducing stress and supporting healing in homeless animals. If you’re new to animal Reiki, take a look at this peaceful moment I was able to share with a kennel full of barking dogs:

Do you have any nonprofits to add to this list?

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