happynewyear     Now that the glitter has settled and the last of the bubbly glasses have been washed, it's time to decide what you're going to achieve during 2012. This new year represents more than just a resetting of the calendar – it heralds new opportunities, chances and hope, all waiting to be realised. Many of our readers and fans often ask us how they can make a difference in the lives of South Africa's shelter animals... what better time to try something new than now?

Local is lekker!

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when looking at the number of shelters across the country, and then the number of animals seeking homes in total. Our best advice is to support your local shelter – if everyone concentrates on this, we'll eventually see a marked difference in every community. It starts with you and it starts at home! Read more...

Adopt!

Perhaps the most obvious way to help, this is also the trickiest. Adopting is not for everyone – you need to be ready physically, emotionally and financially. If you know you're able to give a new pet the love, time, care and devotion it needs, then adoption allows you to not only make a lasting difference in the life of a very deserving and grateful pet, but will provide you with endless joy and happiness. If you're ready to adopt during 2012, please take a look at the shelters in your area (using our user-friendly online search tool) and find your FurKid today.

Volunteer!

Not able to adopt? There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty. Many people are unable to offer a rescue animal a home due to not having the space, finances or time to devote to them. Instead, why not volunteer at your local shelter? The majority of our shelters are absolutely desperate for help and will welcome your time and love with open arms. If you're feeling a little green at the thought of cleaning cages, never fear! Most shelters need help with playing with puppies, spending time with the cats, walking the larger dogs, feeding, and changing water... as well as help with social events and fundraisers. If you've always fancied yourself as an events manager with untapped potential, then this is your chance to show off your skills – chat to the shelter manager and get involved!

Donate!

Relying only on the kindness of the public, shelters welcome absolutely any donation, big or small. Whether you're able to donate financially, or to donate much-needed food, bedding, office supplies or any other items, you'll be making a huge difference to your local shelter. Why not try to spur your colleagues or church groups on to a larger donation, collecting supplies or funds to donate? Every item or cent received will allow that shelter to continue to save lives.

Promote!

It takes only a second to retweet a tweet, share a Facebook post, forward an email or mention something to someone – and, in doing so, share that information with your entire network of friends. Follow FurKidz on Twitter (@FurKidz) or Facebook, and share our daily updates – you might not be able to adopt the gorgeous little face staring at you, but through your network (and your friends sharing with their friends), you might help that little furbaby to find his forever home somewhere along the grapevine. Doesn't that make the tiny effort of sharing that much more worthwhile?

By Linda Harding / The Squashed Tomato