Most things you read this time of year will urge you NOT to give the gift of a pet. No dogs, no cats, and especially no puppies or kittens.
And they’re right. Unless you’re parents bringing a well thought out family pet into the home to share with your children, pets never make great gifts.
They’re cute and cuddly and definitely satisfy the “aw” factor but unless you’re really committed, you might have simply gotten too caught up in the holiday spirit. You’ll also read plenty of articles that talk about the huge spike in “returned animals” to shelters after the holidays.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at adopting a pet around the holidays. I’m encouraging you to adopt.
The difference is that I want YOU to adopt, for yourself. Not for anyone else.
Having a pet is a very personal decision. It’s one that comes with its share of stress, expenses, and sometimes heartache. And to be a successful pet owner, you have to know what kind of pet and what kind of breed is perfect for you.
But here’s why I want you to consider getting a pet.
For a lot of people, like myself, the holidays are a joyous time full of fun and family. We stay up late, play games, sip on wine, and eat way too much food. I’m so fortunate and thankful for that.
For so many people, the holidays are a reminder of what they don’t have. Some people have never found some to share their lives with. Or they’ve lost those people along the way. It can be an incredibly lonely and depressing time.
Pets can help fill that void in so many ways. They’re quiet companions or active buddies. They’re friendly faces at the end of a long day or the best cuddlers when you’ve had a tough day. They don’t care if you’re ugly or overweight or one legged or have bad breath. They are there to provide you with unconditional love. In return, they ask for a warm comfortable place to sleep and some food each day.
Many times, it’s elderly people that feel this sense of loneliness. If not during the holidays, then often throughout the year. Believe or not, they’re often afraid that they’re too old to own a pet. That they might outlive their pet and have no one to care for their companion. These are all obstacles to consider but to also overcome.
If pets are on your mind this holiday season, here are five things to think about and to make sure everyone has a happy season.
1. Consider adopting a cat or dog to make your holidays merrier.
If you’ll be spending a quiet holiday and you’ve been thinking about adding a furry companion to your household, it might make the season even brighter for you. Visit local shelters or contact local rescue groups to see if your forever pet is there waiting for you. And if you’re not sure yet, volunteer to foster some rescue pets in your home. Consider it a “test drive!”
AdoptaPet.com is a great place to start your search!
2. Consider adopting a pet AFTER the holidays.
If you’re going to be traveling over the holidays or even gone from the house a lot, you may want to wait until the new year to welcome a new pet. As I mentioned above, there is often an influx of pets in the shelters after the holidays. These can be “returned” pets. So it might make sense to wait and find your forever friend in January.
3. Spend extra time with your pets.
The holidays can be a confusing and lonely time for your pets. If you’re traveling with them, they have to adapt to new people and new surroundings. If you’re traveling without them, they’ll feel your absence when you’re gone.
Make sure you spend quality time with your pets. They say just 10 minutes a day can make all the difference to your pet!
4. Visit an animal sanctuary.
Whether you own pets or you just like animals, you can visit sanctuaries (or shelters) and spend time with animals. One of our favorite places to visit is the Ruffled Feathers Sanctuary in Hanover, Pennsylvania. My son, who is obsessed with birds, gets a chance to visit with large, exotic (and often unwanted) birds. And for a suggested $10 donation, you can hold them and pose with them.
We usually leave with our hearts full knowing that we spent time with these often abused and neglected birds while helping to fund their mission.
5. Donate to an animal charity.
Maybe the time isn’t right for a pet or your house and heart are already full (my house is full but my heart never is!). There are still ways to support animals over the holiday season. Here are some causes to consider supporting:
Tails of Hope
Wherever you live, there’s is probably an animal group named Tails of Hope. It’s a commonly used name. But this one happens to be local to me and was once a senior dog rescue group. It eventually evolved to become the charity that it is now – a group that focuses on spay and neuter, fundraising for shelters in need, humane education, and animal advocacy and awareness.
If you’re local, be sure to check out their upcoming holiday auction on Facebook!
Honoring the Bond
I just found out about this program recently. It’s a program that’s part of the Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center. Honoring the Bond is a program created “to recognize and honor the human-animal bond by providing support and resources to animal owners.”
If you’ve ever lost an animal companion, you know that the pain and grief is real. They provide many resources to people, both online and in person to help counsel them through a difficult time.
Morris Animal Foundation
I met the people from the Morris Animal Foundation when I spoke at BlogPaws a few years ago. Their mission helps domestic animals as well as wildlife around the world:
We work every day to improve and protect the health of animals through scientific innovation, education and inspiration. We are committed to fighting animal diseases worldwide in species ranging from cats and dogs to horses and alpacas; amphibians and wildcats to anteaters and elephants.
Right now, their Board of Trustees is able to match your donation, dollar for dollar, from now until the end of the year. Donate a one-time or recurring gift to help continue their research to advance the health of animals around the world through science. Your donation will lead to new discoveries in preventives, diagnostics, treatments and even cures that help all animals enjoy longer, healthier lives.
Humane Society of the United States
I know from when my friend Anne works at HSUS that the majority of their funding for the next year comes in the last 30 days of this year. I know some of the work that they do first hand because I’ve worked with them to lobby for animal welfare bills in North Carolina.
Their mission is simple:
We fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, we take on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries. With our affiliates, we rescue and care for thousands of animals every year through our animal rescue team’s work and other hands-on animal care services. We fight all forms of animal cruelty to achieve the vision behind our name: A humane society.
I’ve also been a strong supporter of them in the past by raising awareness for Puppy Mill Action Week.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also hold a place in my heart. I’ve supported many of their programs in the past, like demanding changes to factory farming. But their documentary, Second Chance Dogs, melted my heart and showed me the incredible work they’re doing to rehabilitate “lost cause” dogs.
Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law.