Living in a shelter is one of the most stressful things an animal will have to do.
They show up malnourished and scared, and are kept in an environment anyone would find cold and unwelcoming.
While the staff at shelters are usually incredibly caring and loving, it can never replace the comfrot of a forever home.
Enter: Jennifer Halpern, the founder of Pillows for Paws.
Halpern set out on a mission to make shelter animals feel more comfortable by creating blankets, beds, and toys for them!
"Since the shelter is a very stressful environment that has all types of noise, people, animals and scents, a blanket can make all the difference in making an animal feel better,” Cindy Lu, a feline behavior supervisor at Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) says. “Instead of just lying down on a cold surface, a cat [or dog] can sprawl out or roll over on these comfy blankets, rubbing their scent on them.”
“This piqued my interest since it was something I could organize on my own time, plus bring like-minded, animal-loving people together for a good cause,” Halpern said. “The idea of creating physical items that would go directly to the shelter felt fulfilling!”
“[Toys] engage cats, dogs and rabbits so potential adopters can see these sweet babies show off their personalities,” Halpern said. “And, of course, the beds keep them cozy and warm.”
“I believe they make our adoption rooms brighter and more vibrant, which I think helps make adopters feel happier and optimistic when they visit our care centers,” Lu said. “I think it helps them visualize these animals in their home on top of their own furniture.”
Pillows for Paws also runs workshops through schools and summer camps to teach kids about the importance of helping shelter animals.
“While we make our handmade toys with the kids, we can have a very organic conversation about what we are doing for shelter animals, the importance of adoption and compassion for animals,” Halpern said. “It’s a fun, crafty event so the kids love it and it’s educational at the same time. These kids will be in charge one day, so the more animal-loving people we have out there, the better!”
Pillows for Paws volunteers meet up at a local church each month to create 100 beds, 350-400 catnip toys, 100 tug toys, 100-150 rabbit rolls and 50-60 rabbit toys to donate.
If you'd like to get involved, you can do so here!