Whether it's to celebrate the holiday season or kick off a new year at the start of 2018, donating to your local Cincinnati shelter is a great way to help dogs that are in need. Since there are actually a variety of different ways that you can donate to a shelter, Dog Day Every Day wants to cover six of them right now:

1. Time

Animal shelters rely on help from volunteers to carry out their mission. Even if you only have a few hours a week, donating this time to a Cincinnati shelter will have a positive impact. You can easily contact a shelter to learn more about the type of help they need.

2. Skills

There's no question that shelters need lots of help with tasks like cleaning and taking care of all the dogs. But they also need assistance with more specialized tasks. If you have a skill, chances are good that a shelter will benefit from you donating it. This can be anything from photography to accounting to online marketing.

3. Items

Most shelters are very appreciative of getting donations of both new and gently-used items. Wish lists often include water & food bowls, toys, leashes, collars, brushes, beds and blankets. Shelters also need a variety of cleaning supplies. Don't hesitate to get in touch with a shelter and ask them which items they currently need the most.

4. Food

Given all the animals that occupy a shelter, it shouldn't come as a surprise that they consume a lot of food. If you have a way to obtain or purchase animal food in bulk, a shelter will be able to put this donation to good use right away. The same is true for cat litter. It's worth noting that many smaller pet food brands offer donation programs where they will match the amount of food you donate pound for pound.

5. Awareness

Shelters in Cincinnati do an incredible amount of positive work for local animals. With everything going on in the world, it's easy to forget about that impact. One way you can help with this issue is by spreading awareness. This donation can be as simple as using your social media profiles or as elaborate as organizing a fundraising event for a specific shelter.

6. Money

While we've already covered five different ways to donate, no list about this topic would be complete without mentioning money. Shelters definitely need financial support, so if that's what works best for you to donate, don't hesitate to do so!

It always feels great to surprise someone with the perfect Christmas gift. In many movies, dogs are depicted as a Christmas gift that bring tons of joy and excitement to those who receive them. If you're thinking about surprising a friend or family member with a dog for Christmas, we highly advise against this plan. Although we love dogs and are firm believers that they can bring immense happiness to households, there are several important reasons why surprising someone with a dog for Christmas isn't the right approach to take.

Since we completely understand getting wrapped up in the excitement and emotion of the holiday season, we want to go over the specific reasons why this surprise rarely works out as expected despite seeming like a wonderful Christmas plan:

1. Dogs Should Be Adopted, Not Bought

There are millions of dogs in shelters across the United States. Because there are already so many dogs who need a home, dogs are something that should never be bought.  Unfortunately, far too many people are unaware of this issue and end up buying a dog from a puppy mill. This results in puppy mills continuing to operate despite caring far more about profit than the dogs they are breeding.

2. Having a Dog is a Big Responsibility

Dogs can bring a lot of joy into a home. But with that joy comes a lot of responsibility. Even if a dog is already potty trained, it’s still important to take a dog out several times a day. The daily responsibilities associated with having a dog are why this decision should never be made for someone as a Christmas surprise.

3. Kids Change Their Minds and Lose Interest All the Time

Kids are the most common recipients of dogs as Christmas gifts. While there’s no question that they’ll be very surprised and excited, kids have no trouble bouncing from one thing to the next. That’s why parents who think their kids will fully care for a dog on an ongoing basis often find themselves in a less than ideal situation within a few months or even weeks.

4. Taking Care of a Dog is An Ongoing Financial Obligation

In addition to the time involved in taking care of a dog, there’s also an ongoing financial obligation. It’s important that someone is ready to take on that obligation prior to committing to a dog. This point once again demonstrates why coming to this decision is something that an individual or family needs to do on their own instead of having it sprung on them as a surprise.

Once you take into account the four issues we covered above, it becomes clear why dogs don’t make good Christmas gifts. That being said, if you feel that your own family is ready to take on the responsibility of giving a dog a home, we encourage you to use some of the time you have off during this holiday season to visit an adoption center, animal shelter or humane society organization in the West Chester or Cincinnati, Ohio area. Taking this step will give you an opportunity to fully evaluate if you’re ready to start 2016 with a new addition to your family!