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Published: Nov 08, 2011

National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week is in full swing and since its beginning in 1996, more has been done each year to raise awareness and funding for groups that help save the lives of million of animals each year.

This year the week is running between November 6 and November 12 and aside from helping keep these organizations going strong, the week also encourages potential pet owners to adopt a pet rather than purchase one from a breeder or pet shop, The Huffington Post reports.

Some people may not be ready for the responsibility of taking care of a pet full time, but may still want to help. According to the publication, pet-loving people can give back by volunteering their time at local animal shelters. Here they can spend time with deserving dogs, cats, bunnies and more by walking the animals, playing with them, feeding each one and keeping them in good overall pet health.

Owners can also help out by getting their pets neutered or spayed to help reduce the number of unwanted animals. VCA Animal Hospitals reports that getting an animal fixed can also reduce their chances of developing certain cancers or other medical conditions.

People can also give back by hosting a "pet food" drive as a way to provide nutritious meals to animals in shelters.