Forget Bounce Houses! Have Your Kid's Next Party at an Animal Shelter

Kids at Animal Shelter Party
Courtesy of the Arizona Humane Society

When 6-year-old Carter James of Louisville, Ky., was invited to attend a classmate’s birthday party at the Kentucky Humane Society, he eagerly accepted. Carter’s mom, Jodi James, says that while she and Carter didn’t know what to expect of the party, they were both pleasantly surprised it wasn’t another bounce house. A growing number of animal shelters are hosting children's birthday parties, offering a fun, positive alternative for pet-loving families. Kids learn about helping pets in need, and shelters gain a new revenue stream and opportunity to build community support for their programs and efforts.

Engaging Activities

Activities at shelter birthday parties vary, but many include the rental and decoration of a party room, a pet-related craft, a tour of the shelter, games and often a little puppy love from one or more of the shelter’s sociable residents.

Shana Silverman of Niskayuna, N.Y., hosted her daughter Sasha’s 7th birthday party at their local shelter, the Animal Protective Foundation. Sasha’s 11 guests toured the shelter, learned about animal care, did a coloring activity about animals, ate cake and played games outside.

James says the kids at the party Carter attended made homemade dog biscuits.

Dr. Kris Haley of the Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix says an exciting part of their parties is when the birthday boy or girl gets to name one of the shelter pets.

For birthday parties at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay in Tampa, Fla., kids decorate a frame to hold the photo of an adoptable pet, says Ornella Varchi, volunteer and outreach manager. The framed photos are then displayed in the shelter to showcase pets needing forever homes.

Varchi says the guests then head out into the shelter’s dog yard for a scavenger hunt to find items people would need if they adopt a cat or dog. “The kids are divided into a cat team and a dog team and instructed to find a list of items we’ve hidden throughout the outdoors area — leashes, bowls, toys and more. It’s a good educational game about pet care, and the kids have a blast,” she says. “And it helps burn off some energy,” she adds with a laugh.


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