In 2006, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Malea McGuinness began an eye-opening volunteering stint at Beverly Hills animal rescue shelter the Amanda Foundation. During her four years with the shelter, where she volunteered about 25 hours per week, McGuinness decided she’d use her music career to help raise funds and awareness for other shelters across the country.

So on her current Save a Life, Adopt a Pet tour to promote her third album, Sweet, produced by Jim Scott, McGuinness is visiting local animal shelters and humane societies in select cities where she performs. The idea behind the visits, she says, is to hold raffles and other fund-raising efforts with the goal of raising money to cover anything from spays and neuters to vaccinations for animals.

“When I find out where I’m going on tour, I’ll look for any animal rescue places that need money,” says McGuinness, who travels on tour with her dog, Jonah, a Jack Russell Terrier mix she adopted from the Amanda Foundation. “I’ll remind people when I’m at shows, because a lot of people don’t even realize [there are] rescues or humane societies in their cities. I also try to remind them to adopt and not buy pets.”

McGuinness, who’ll soon begin recording songs for her fourth album, says she’d like to run her own animal shelter someday. “But that takes a lot of money,” she says, “so this is what I can do now. Working in a rescue for a long time made me familiar with how every little thing makes a difference.”

-Mitchell Peters