Animal Shelter Birthday Party Tips and Ideas

By Erica Loop in Helping Hands

A whopping 6.5 million cats and dogs enter animal shelters across the U.S. each year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). But getting potential pet parents in the door isn't the only mission of animal shelter staff. Along with adopting Fidos and Fluffys, they also want to educate and inform the public.

That learning can start early on. Instead of the same old, same old, consider throwing your child an animal shelter birthday party. Like other charitable birthday party ideas, it's a fun way to give back to the community while making great birthday memories.

What do you need to know about throwing an animal shelter b-day bash? Take a look at the ins and outs of this perfectly adorable idea!

little girl with glasses hugging cat

Perfect Party Pick

Birthday party venue picks are infinite. So why choose an animal shelter when water slides and laser tag are also options? Simply put, because it gives your child the chance to give back.

Children, both little and big, may find the idea of being charitable a totally foreign concept. If your kiddo is all about themselves right now, don't worry. It's completely normal for young children to focus on "me, me, me."

A shelter party takes a lesson in giving and combines it with something your pet-loving child adores: cute furry animals.

Shelter Selection

Finding a venue for an animal shelter birthday party is important. You can't throw this type of party just anywhere. Chances are there's an ASPCA or other animal rescue center in your town or county. So now that you've found a shelter, where do you go from here?

Not every shelter provides celebration accommodations. That means you'll need to call ahead and ask the director or event management staff if it's possible to have your child's purr-fect party in their facility. For animal centers that do host events, there is often a minimum monetary donation or supply wishlist. You and your child could consider asking friends to bring food, toys, and blankets for pets in need instead of birthday presents.

Keep in mind, some shelters may not have parties, but may offer tours. If this is the case for your local shelter, consider taking the tour and putting the party plans off until the kids come home.

Party Animal Activities

Once you find a willing shelter for a party venue, what can you expect? Depending on what the shelter offers, your group may get a personal tour, time with a few animals, crafts, games, or even the chance to help with chores like walking dogs and refilling food bowls. Note that the shelter may also need to know the ages of the children who will be coming, Vetstreet advises, since some organizations have a minimum age to volunteer.

If your kids are old enough to work with the animals directly, two of the activities they may be able to help with are walking dogs and socializing cats. Dogs in small living areas need plenty of engagement and exercise. If your tykes brought toys to donate, they could introduce them to new furry friends in group playtime. Cats who are stressed by being with other cats or who are living indoors for the first time may be shy and need practice sitting quietly near people or accepting food and petting.

You should also carefully consider whether your little ones and their friends are mature enough to be around rescue animals. The family dog may accept being showered with kisses and ridden like a pony, but dogs and cats in shelters are often stressed or skittish and may be fearful of loud voices or enthusiastic hands. Emphasize using an "inside voice" around shy animals and waiting for the shelter staff's cue to pet any fluffy bellies.

three puppies snoozing

Kids' Party Considerations

An animal shelter can be a lively environment. And while that makes for a fantastic party, it also presents some challenges. Even though your little one adores animals, their best friend may have a serious fear of dogs, cats, or even bunnies. Talk to the guests' parents before the big day to get a rundown on who isn't 100 percent comfortable being around animals. From the animals' point of view, you should also keep an eye on party guests who may be prone to grabbing, yelling, or startling pets.

You may need to invite some, or perhaps all, of the invitees' parents to prevent potential pet stress meltdowns. If you're mid-party and notice an anxious guest, ask the staff if you (or another responsible adult) can take the child to another room. Also don't forget to ask about allergies. You don't want a surprise sneeze attack when an allergic guest gets a face full of fur.

So, you say you're looking for charitable birthday party ideas? The creative combination of giving back, community service, and adorable cats and dogs is an animal-themed event that your child will cherish for years to come—especially if it ends in an adoption of your very own!

Image source: Pixabay | Flickr | Flickr

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Why It’s Good

Animal adoptions save lives. Throwing an animal shelter birthday party for your child combines charitable acts with kid-friendly fun for everyone!