Photo by Victor Bezrukov
The internet is full of messages, notes, and cries about animal cruelty and violations of animal rights all over the world. It's all very sad and disgraceful. Perhaps, you have asked yourself what you can do to help animals. The problem seems enormous but there are, actually, several quite simple things you could do to improve the situation. Many a little makes a mickle! Even the smallest effort can help.

1. Make a different food choice

Are you a vegan? If not, what about becoming one? This is the most direct way you can help prevent animal cruelty. Imagine what would happen if people in the world didn't eat meat. There would be no demand for it, and thus it would not be profitable to breed animals for killing them. Give it a try. There are a lot of vegan dishes that can be amazingly delicious, you just need a bit of imagination and creativity (and a good vegan cooking book, obviously).

2. Avoid polluting the environment

It's sad that humans tend to pollute everything around. Even when we began to make regular space flights, we began to pollute the orbit. I think there is no need to explain why it is bad for the nature (though I'll mention that, apart from the global warming effect, animals can confuse plastic garbage with food and die if they have eaten it). Perhaps, a day will come when we all use electric cars, solar & wind energy, and recycle every single glass bottle, plastic bag, rechargeable & alkaline battery, and other stuff like that. But for now, it would be great if you, for example, never used "throw-away" plastic plates and other dishes like that. Also, try to re-use everything made of plastic: take your own bags to stores to carry home your purchases. If in your town there are containers for recyclable garbage (glass, plastic, paper, steel, aluminium, etc), do use them.

3. Do not buy items made of fur or leather

As well as a refusal to eat meat, boycotting items made of fur and leather decreases demand for them. As a result, the production of such items can reduce too, and less animals will be killed.
Photo by John K

Fill up squirrel feeders if you have any around

4. Report animal cruelty

Even though many countries have laws against animal cruelty, it remains shockingly widespread and often goes unreported and unnoticed. You should be aware of the main signs of possible animal cruelty and report them to your local humane society, animal control or law enforcement agency. The main signs of animal cruelty and violence are extremely thin animals, wounds on the body, and animals that cower in fear when their owners approaches.

5. Boycott companies that test on animals

Unfortunately, a lot of cosmetics and household products are cruelly tested on animals (skin and eye irritation tests, lethal oral poisoning experiments, etc). Little veterinary aid is provided and the use of anaesthetics is seldom if ever. Of course, it is nearly impossible to totally refuse cosmetics and household chemicals, but you could at least find out which companies do not test on animals, and support them by purchasing their products.

6. Adopt pets from a shelter or rescue group, refuse exotic pets

If you want to get a pet, choose adopting from a shelter or rescue group. When you buy from a breeder or pet store, you support breeding. But there are already so many sweet, adorable, and affectionate creatures that need your love and care! Why support breeding while we ought to take care about animals that have already been born?
As to exotic pets, there is quite cruel and ruthless business behind them. I believe you have heard about poachers smuggling captured owls, monkeys, birds, etc. Many of the animals die because of barbaric treatment. Do not support this violence!

7. Boycott zoos with negative reputation, circuses and other types of animal entertainment

A lot of zoos are a part of animal conservancy & rehabilitation networks and help save rare, endangered, and extinct species. However, many of them, as well as various circuses, are just another institute of exploiting animals for money's sake. Boycott such establishments if they have a negative reputation. Instead, you could support genuine animal sanctuaries.

8. Volunteer

Do you want to give animals real help? Volunteer! Look for some local animal shelters and give them a call to see whether you can volunteer. This will be an incredibly rewarding experience and a great help

9. Help wildlife

Do not forget about your wild neighbours. If you have a garden, make a bird table or hang bird feeders. If you don't have a garden, you can hang some feeders in a park if it is permitted. Fill up squirrel feeders if you have any around.
Photo by Tut99

Make a bird table or hang bird feeders in your garden

This is most important in the cold winter season. In your garden, you can also plant native flowers and plants to attract butterflies and insects.

10. Sign petitions and join animal rights groups

Some people are very sceptic about signing petitions (especially online petitions) thinking that they are absolutely useless. However, I've seen it several times that some of them do work: desirable actions were taken. It doesn't take much time to sign an online petition and share it with your friends, but it can really make a difference and support animals that need your help.
Also, you can find and join animal rights groups in the internet (including social media websites) to meet like-minded people and share ideas. Joining a real animal rights group in your area would be even better.