Writing a Check

If you’re lucky enough to be one for whom end-of-year charitable giving makes your tax burden more bearable come this April, this post is for you!

After all, what could be more fun than shopping for places to dedicate your animal-directed dollars. To that end, consider the following nine awesome animal charities or organizations as possible recipients of your tax-relieving donations (in no particular order):

1. Maddie’s Fund. The foundation awards grants to animal welfare organizations to help increase shelter adoptions while minimizing euthanasias associated with treatable conditions. The organization also provides grants to veterinary schools to establish shelter medicine programs.

2. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Moved by the decimation of coral reefs, overfishing issues and the pointless slaughter of dolphins? This four-star-rated charity is a great go-to charity for pushing marine animal welfare and environmental stewardship in general. It doesn't hurt that the T-shirts are way cool too.

3. The International Fund for Animal Welfare. From saving elephants to paying for shelter animal care, you can put your money to good use in a variety of animal welfare areas via this organization.

4. Your (or your veterinarian's) favorite vet school. My alma mater’s shelter medicine program gets donations whenever clients ask which pet charity’s my absolute favorite. I mean, if they’re willing to offer a donation in my name (usually in their pet’s memory), my own vet program is a great place to do it.

5. Animal Legal Defense Fund. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is always an interesting alternative to the standard cast of characters in the animal welfare world. I’m especially in love with its tagline: “We may be the only lawyers on earth whose clients are all innocent.” Even if it weren’t so highly rated, that alone might be grounds for a donation.

6. Days End Farm Horse Rescue. This is the only rescue to earn a four-star rating on Charity Navigator. By providing care for neglected, abused and unwanted horses, Days End is the perfect place to put your equine-specific dollars and cents.

7. Heifer International. Heifer International is always on my list of favorite animal charities. It makes it their business to help people in developing nations feed themselves and prosper by showing them how to build microbusinesses in animal agriculture. I especially love their holiday gift catalog.

This year I donated yet another goat in my mother’s name. For $50, a goat is an easy last-minute gift idea. And with a solid track record in their field and high marks for efficiency, Heifer International is always a safe bet.

To round out this year’s list, consider two of my perennial favorite options:

8. Local animal groups. Sometimes charitable giving is best when it happens close to home. Assuming you’re comfortable with the quality of work they undertake, local shelters or rescue groups are no-brainer places to allocate your funds.

9. Your veterinarian's needy pet fund. Know and trust your veterinarian well? A donation to your veterinarian’s “stray” or “needy” fund might do the trick. Many animal hospitals offer one that can accept tax-deductible donations, but be sure yours qualifies for your personal tax purposes.