The first full week of November is National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week. Most animal rescuers are the quiet sort, working behind the scenes to make conditions better for homeless animals. Even if you have been known to say, “I love animals but I just can’t work in a shelter,” there are still many things you can do to help.

First, adopt a pet – November is also Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Pets over 5 years of age can be overlooked in a shelter. Many rescue groups don’t even accept older pets for fear they won’t find a new home. But cats can live 15 years or more and dogs regularly live past age 12 (in human years). Senior pets have plenty of time left to give. (If you are middle-aged and single, you know that 40 is not the end of the line.)

Second, if you’ve already adopted or taken in an unwanted pet of your own, put an ID tag on your pet and repair that hole in the fence. Get a dog trainer for your unruly retriever so you can walk him regularly and stop that early morning barking. Buy a license for your cat, which means updating that neglected rabies booster. Not using shelter services for things you can take care of yourself is a great way to show your support, because it allows shelters to make their limited resources available for other things.

Third, if you are already a good pet-owning citizen, consider volunteering outside the shelter. You can post profiles on Facebook or share your local rescue’s work by linking to their Facebook page or even creating one for them (with their permission, of course). If it’s hard to be in the shelter, there are plenty of jobs in the community that do as much good. You can man a booth at a local event or put up flyers in your neighborhood or around town.

Too busy? Drop off old sheets and towels, newspapers, paper towel rolls or cleaning supplies. You have to clean the garage anyway. That old bird cage could be put to good use.

Last but not least, send a thank you note. Shelter and rescue workers don’t need thanks for what they do. They work in the shelter because they care about animals too much to be anywhere else. But they will be surprised that anyone has noticed and especially happy to hear that it is appreciated.

There are many ways to be a part of Shelter Appreciation Week. Giving local is a great way to help animals year-round, and this week is as good a time as any to get in the habit. And while Shelter Appreciation Week ends November 10th, your support will make a lasting impact on the staff, volunteers, and most of all, the pets at your local shelter or rescue.