Take a look at this amazing video from the Michigan Humane Society:

Aside from its undeniably heartwarming nature, this miraculous story highlights the extraordinary lengths local shelter professionals and animal control workers go to every single day to save abandoned, abused and neglected dogs and cats. These heroic efforts are made possible, not as a result of donations given to national charities, but thanks to local, grassroots support of independent pet shelters and rescues across the country.

Local groups are dependent on donations to help cover the cost of providing vital care in the form of food, housing, and veterinary services, while keeping the lights on, paying staff salaries, running adoption events and recruiting volunteers for programs like The Michigan Humane Society emergency rescue team. When you make the decision to give locally, you are contributing directly to the hands-on care and sheltering of homeless animals in your area while helping ensure that the volunteers and staff at your local animal rescue, pet shelter or government agency can continue their lifesaving work.

No matter what you’ve heard, donations to national organizations do not cover these costs.

But this incredible story underscores another important aspect of the local humane movement: teamwork. Just like the old saying about how it “takes a village to raise a child,” saving homeless pets is a group effort, and even if you can’t afford to make a donation, there are still plenty of ways to support your local shelter.

Adopting or fostering an animal is always a great idea, but if adding a furry friend to your household isn’t an option, volunteers are always needed to help socialize animals, assist with adoptions, or simply tend to various tasks around the shelter. And even if you can’t be the plumber or the excavator who helps rescue a tiny puppy from an underground pipe, it’s likely that your skill or area of expertise can be put to good use helping save the lives of local animals.

Finally, you can also help out by donating household products and pet supplies. Most shelters keep an up-to-date “wish list” of items they can use on a daily basis — everything from kitty litter to paper towels to old bedding and office supplies. These items can help make life more comfortable for shelter pets while reducing the need for organizations to spend their limited budgets on these types of basic supplies.

While these small gestures may seem rather mundane when compared with the valiant efforts of the volunteers in the video above, just remember that every little bit helps. And whether you donate money, time, professional services, or ordinary household goods, you are part of the heroic team of individuals working to help give companion animals a better life.