BY JANET McAFEE

It was once widely believed that the holiday season was a bad time to adopt a new dog or cat, and some private shelters and rescues actually closed down until the New Year arrived.  There was concern that “impulse” adoptions, and in particular pets bought as “gifts” for other people would result in a large number of adoption returns.  While there is some truth to that concern, Michael Arms, CEO and President of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, California, did some research that indicated this might be a great time of year to promote rescue animals. 

With private shelter doors closed, would be adopters in December resorted to shopping at pet stores, puppy mills, and backyard breeders for a family pet.  Arms realized that this increased the business of non-reputable puppy stores and backyard breeders.  However, the staff at these “businesses” were rarely trained to make a successful animal to family match, resulting in an increase in the number of pets dumped in public open-admission shelters after the gift giving season ended. 

Home 4 The Holidays is now an annual event, now on its 19th annual campaign, having helped adopt over 13 million orphan pets into loving homes each holiday season.  This year, orphan puppies from New York based Paws Crossed Animal Rescue joined Michael Arms and Blue Buffalo CEO, Billy Bishop, in Times Square to ring in NASDAQ’s opening bell.  This now nationally based campaign runs from October 1st, 2017, through January 2nd, 2018. 

How does the campaign work?  The Blue Buffalo Home 4 The Holidays nationwide effort encourages shelters and rescues to keep their doors open throughout the holiday season.  They assist by offering these groups marketing assistance.  Blue Buffalo distributes 600,000 pet adoption kits to participating shelters and rescue groups to help adopters get off to a good start with their rescue pet.  The kits include pet food coupons and a portfolio to record health and other pet information.  National marketing support drives potential pet parents to adopt at participating organizations, and over 4,000 groups now take part. 

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Michael Arms reports, “The support that Blue Buffalo puts behind this program each year is an incredible gift.  All of the participating adoption organizations benefit from months of campaign-messaging encouraging families to visit their local rescue groups or pet adoption center over the holiday season to give orphan pets a chance.” 

Any time of the year, if you want give a pet to an adult, consider accompanying them to a shelter, let them select an animal, and then pay their adoption fee.  Choosing a pet is a very individual and personal decision.  Don’t surprise your mother-in-law with a large energetic puppy on Christmas morning.  The only exception might be if you are a parent purchasing a holiday gift for your own young children, and the animal will be in your home.  

Anytime of the year is the BEST time to open your heart and home to a homeless animal.  Here at Loving All Animals we are blessed this season by the folks calling to foster and/or adopt one of our wonderful dogs or cats. Visit us at www.lovingallanimals.org or call (760) 834-7000 for information about where to adopt a pet of any kind this season.  View the animals at our large county shelter in Thousand Palms, the Coachella Valley Animal Campus, at www.rcdas.org or call them at (760) 343-3644.  There’s nothing like the warm, loving and grateful heart of a rescue dog or cat to bring you holiday joy. 

Merry Christmas to you and your 4-legged family members! 

Jmcafee7@verizon.net