Knit And Sew Jumpers And Coats For Rescue Animals And Wildlife
There are a number of reasons that animals in domestic pet and wildlife rescue shelters may need jumpers to wear.
Animals often arrive at rescue shelters with very matted fur, which cannot be groomed. The only way to treat this is to shave all the fur off. This can leave the animal very cold and in need of a jumper, especially if the are unwell, which many animals are when they arrive. They may be suffering from skin conditions, or stress has made them pull out their coats and attack their skin. Some animals are just prone to feeling the cold.
It is known that black and dark coloured dogs and cats are often overlooked at shelters and rescues in favour of lighter coloured pets.Knitting brightly coloured jumpers for them to wear makes them look more appealing to adopters, speeding up the rate at which they get adopted.
When ex-battery hens are rescued, they can be in an awful state, having plucked out or rubbed away many of their feathers on the small cages they spent their lives in (although some hen rescues do not recommend jumpers for hens).
Parrots and other birds can pluck their feathers out due to stress, leaving them needing a jumper. This prevents further plucking, as well as keeping them warm.
When there was a massive oil spill, penguins covered in oil needed jumpers to stop them instinctively preening to remove the toxic oil, meaning they would swallow it. There was such an overwhelming response to an appeal that was made for the jumpers, that wildlife charities were able to sell some of the jumpers on stuffed soft toy penguins in their gift shops to raise funds to help wildlife. So next time there’s a big oil spill, you can contact the wildlife charities involved to see if they need any knitting done.
Image: Penguin jumpers were used to prevent oil covered penguins swallowing the lethal oil through preening themselves to get clean.
Knit Jumpers To Help Dark Dogs Get Adopted
Some of the reasons that dark coloured dogs are often overlooked and take much longer to be adopted is that dark animals tend not to photograph well and it can be difficult to distinguish their features – especially the all important facial features. In addition, if they have any white or grey hairs, these show up against their black coats and may make them look older than they are. Superstition has given black dogs a bad image too. In British folklore, and that of other cultures, black dogs often appear as evil forces that represent death to those who see them.
Knitting these dark coloured pets brightly coloured jumpers to wear makes them look more appealing.
Edith Smith and Winnie Anderson, members of Scottish Womens Institute groups in the Aberdeenshire Federation, were the first ones who knitted colourful jumpers and donated them to an SPCA rescue and rehoming centre at Drumoak, near Banchory in Scotland, UK.
SPCA Superintendent Sharon Comrie explains:
“This [black dog] syndrome really does affect the adoption of animals in our care and, through no fault of their own, black dogs are almost always the last to find new homes. It’s a really creative idea to knit coloured jackets to show these dogs off to their best advantage.
Knitted jackets will be ideal because they will be soft on the skin, have an element of give and stretch, and can be created in any, or many, colours of wool. Every knitted jacket that we receive will be put to good use at our rehoming centres across Scotland and with the SWI knitters’ support, we will be able to build up a collection of special jackets for our dark dogs to wear with pride.”
Whether you are involved with a Womens Institute or not, you can help an overlooked dark dog get adopted by knitting them a technicolour jumper. You can find free knitting patterns for dog jumpers below.
With these jumpers helping dogs get adopted more quickly, life saving rescue spaces will be freed up more often to save the lives of dogs on death row in pounds.
Image: Colourful knitted coats on dark dogs, such as this SPCA rescue dog, make them more appealing to potential adopters. Source
Knit Jumpers For Rescue Shelter Pets In Mexico
United Hope For Animals, based in Los Angeles, asked knitters if they would help dogs in Mexico by knitting dog sweaters for United Hope for Animals to take down to Tijuana on its regular trips there. they provide this free knitting pattern.
Image: One of United Hope For Animals’ volunteers with the dog sweaters she knitted to help rescue dogs in Mexico. Image source
Dog Jumper Knitting Patterns for Animal Rescue Shelters
Although pets who are kept outside in rescue shelters are more likely to need waterproof coats, there are some rescues who can make use of knitted dog jumpers.
Check with the animal rescue you would like to support to check they can make use of your pet jumper, either to sell to raise funds, or in the care of their animals. It is also a good idea to check what sizes they are most in need of.
Below are knitting patterns for a variety of dog coats/jumpers/sweaters that are to fit a number of different sized dogs.
Here are some free knitting patterns of dog coats:
Big Dog Sweater
Button Up Dog Sweater
Turtle Neck Dog Sweater
Greyhound Dog Coat
Sew And Knit Coats And Snoods For Greyhound Rescues
Greyhounds In Need is another charity that rescues Greyhounds and Lurchers, and in particular Spanish Galgos who face horrific cruelty in Spain. They would be grateful for knitted and fleece coats, and provide patterns for a knitted coat, sewn coat, sewn “snuggler” (dog nightie!).
Greyhound Gap is a small independent charity that rehabilitates and rehomes Greyhounds and Lurchers in danger of being put to sleep in UK pounds. They welcome fleece jumpers / coats for their rescued animals, if people would like to sew any for them.
Image: Greyhounds In Need provide sewing and knitting patterns for coats they need for their dogs. Source
Snoods are also used to keep the dogs necks, and sometimes ears, warm. Below is an ear warming fleece snood sewing pattern. It takes around 15 minutes to make:
• 20″ x 30″ piece of fabric (polar fleece works best, but anything thick and warm will do)
• 12″ piece of elastic (anything from 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide)
1. Basically, take a 20″ x 30″ piece of fabric. Sew a seam on the 20″ side so you have a tube.
2. Hem one end on the machine by turn the fabric over 1/4″, then 1/4″ again and sewing.
3. Turn over the other end 1/4″ and sew, then turn again (this time 1/2″ – 3/4″) and sew to make a casing. Leave a small opening.
4. Measure a piece of elastic around the dog’s face (usually about 12 inches), near the ears. Subtract 2″ and cut the elastic. Be sure to measure while the elastic is in its unstretched state.
5. Thread the elastic through the casing. Adjust size on dog, sew elastic together, close up hole on casing and there you have it. You can put the snood on first, then the hound coat.
Image: Make a snood for Greyhound rescues. Source
There is also a fundraising snood knitting pattern here. It costs £2 and 100% of the money raised is donated to the Essex Greyhound Rescue service, or Lurcher Link. This means you can help Greyhounds twice, once with your £2 donation, and again by knitting a snood for a rescue.
Alternatively, here is a free snood knitting pattern, provided by Northumberland Greyhound Rescue, who you may wish to donate your hand made garments to.
In addition to the Greyhound rescues mentioned, you can contact your local Greyhound rescue to see if they are in need of coats and snoods.
Image: Greyhounds like snoods to keep their necks warm. Source
Knit Dog Jumpers For Canine MRI Patients
The Animal Health Trust uses knitted dog and cat jumpers to keep the animals warm when they come around from the anaesthetic after having an MRI scan. Although they have a good supply of jumpers for small dogs with short backs, and for cats, they need more for long-backed dogs, such as dashunds, and especially for larger dogs.
They say that the jumpers do not have to look pretty – use up any old yarn you like – and if you have a more practical design than the free pattern they provide, they welcome it.
If they get enough surplus jumpers, they will look to sell them in their giftshop.
Image: Ethel the dog wears a knitted jumper which helps dogs keep warm who undergo MRI scans at the Animal Health Trust. Image Source
Groups You Can Get Involved With
In addition, there are groups you can get involved with, such as Fibers For Fido and K9 Search UK Knitters Club, who ask their members to knit jumpers to be distributed to rescue shelters who have registered with them. See the “Sewing And knitting Groups And Organisations That Help Animal Rescue Shelters” section of this page for more information.
Knit Jumpers For Parrots
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, in Utah, provide a knitting pattern for a parrot jumper here.
Best Friends says that parrots who come into their care have sometimes plucked their feathers out through stress. The jumpers not only keep the birds warm, but prevent them from plucking out more of their feathers.
Image: Windy the parrot wearing a jumper to keep him warm and stop him plucking more feathers out with stress. Image Source
If you would like to make a parrot sweater, it is advisable to first contact animal rescues and sanctuaries to see if they are in need of them.
Jumper Vests For Ex-battery Hens
Ex-battery hens often arrive at rescues without many of thir feathers. The awful conditions they were kept in caused stress induced self plucking of feathers, as well as more dominant hens plucking out other hens feathers. Neck and chest feathers also get rubbed away on the metal cage bars when they are feeding.
Image: Ex-battery hens often arrive at rescues missing many feathers. Some rescues use hen sweaters to keep them warm and stop them plucking.
Although many animal rescues that rescue ex-battery hens use knitted hen vests, the British Hen Welfare Trust does not encourage their use, for reasons explained here.
BHWT encourage people to knit them toy chickens and other things for them to sell in their fundraising shop (see the “Knit And Sew Fundraising Items For Charity” section of this page).
If you know of any animal rescue shelters or sanctuaries who rescue ex-battery hens, it is worth getting in touch with them to ask if they use knitted sweater vests for hens.
Here is a Hen Jumper knitting pattern you can use.
Places that have appealed for hen sweater vests in the past include:LittleHill Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in County Kildare, Ireland;
Lee Valley Park Farms in Waltham.
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