Yesterday marked the first day of spring, and all across the country, pets and their people are celebrating the slow retreat of winter and the first signs of a new summer season. For most of us, springtime means coping with some wild weather, enjoying the beauty of the budding trees and emerging flowers, and shaking off the cold dormancy of the long winter months (and long winter coats). Spring is also the season for new enterprises and new ideas, a time when we all feel ready to take on the world, and motivated enough to tackle any and every project with great gusto.

In my town, spring is also the season for the annual “Dog Jog,” a fundraising benefit for the local humane organization coordinated by the local dog obedience club, canine search and rescue corps, and running club. Comprised of both a 3.1 mile competitive run, and a 2 mile non-competitive fun walk/run, the Dog Jog is open to all participants — with or without a dog. Entry fees range from $5 (child) to $20 (adult), and all the proceeds go to the local pet shelter. It’s a fun-filled day of exercise and activity for the whole family, and it’s also a perfect example the kind of creative fundraising ideas groups and individuals across the country have come up with to help raise money for local rescues and animal shelters.

From bark balls and yard sales to poker tournaments and “take your dog to work” days, the options for furry fundraisers are limited only by your imagination, time and energy. And while individual contributions are always appreciated, why not use some spring momentum to organize an event that will benefit your local humane organization in a slightly bigger way?

To help inspire your fundraising frenzy, here are a few awesome events and programs put on by shelters, and friends of shelters, all across the country:

  • In Atlanta, Georgia, the Homeroom for Hounds program pairs elementary school classrooms with pets at the local no-kill shelter. While raising donations of pet supplies and spare change for their “adopted” dog or cat, students also learn important lessons about pet care and civic responsibility.
  • In Bellevue Iowa, pet lovers can gamble for a good cause at the no-limit Texas Hold ’em poker tournament benefiting the The Jackson County Humane Society.
  • Holland, Michigan’s Harbor Humane Society is hosting a Blues Benefit Extravaganza featuring local blues bands, comedy performances and door prizes.
  • In Tuscon, Arizona, the Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter is combining education with fundraising by offering $10 community classes for dog and cat lovers on such subjects as “Basic Cat Care,” and “Pet First Aid and CPR.”
  • The Seattle Humane Society is helping kids beat the summer blues while learning all about companion animals with their Animal Adventures Camp program.
  • Pet Sitters International makes fundraiser organization a cinch with their “Take Your Dog to Work Day” program.
  • In Port Jefferson Station, New York, the Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center, Inc. is putting on an “out there” fundraiser — a psychic night featuring pet psychics, clairvoyants, tarot card readings, numerology, astrology and more.
  • And if psychics aren’t “out there” enough, the The Spring Equinox Rites of Rebirth Bellydance Fundraiser to benefit the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, Massachusetts is another excellent example of creative fundraising.

Bellydancers, psychics, poker tournaments — when it comes to fundraising for pets, the sky’s the limit! So gather your friends and family for a good brainstorming session and spring into action. After all, ’tis the season!