I have some very exciting news to share with you all this month! I am proud to announce that I was recently elected to the Board of Directors for Special Pals Shelter, a local, nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter in Katy. Anyone who has met me knows how passionate I am about animal rescue and adoption so I am truly honored to serve in this position. Thank you, Special Pals!
Of course this means I have been thinking about animals even more these days. And with colder weather bearing down on us, their safety and well-being is at the top of my priority list. So this month, I’m dedicating my blog post to providing helpful information about animals and the holiday season.
I don’t have to tell you that the holiday season is bursting at the seams with greatness: quality family time, massive meals, holiday cards and gifts, caroling, chilly weather, and charitable giving just to name a few… but it also happens to present several issues for all the little critters in our lives. Fortunately, we humans can easily help them out!
First and foremost, I cannot stress enough that furry four-legged friends are not merely gifts received on Christmas morning. They are a 10-15 year commitment. The excitement and joy of gifting a sweet little puppy or kitten to a loved one pales in comparison to the later realization that they might not have the time or resources to provide for their new pet adequately. What’s even worse is having to make the gut-wrenching decision to return the animal to the place it came or taking it to an animal shelter. Every year, well-intentioned people don’t take into account the amount of time and money it takes to properly care for an animal and thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized due to lack of space in shelters. Of course, an equally lousy solution is keeping a pet you have no business owning. It’s not fair to the animal to be forced to spend the majority of its day in a cage or outside with no socialization or love from anyone. Please, please, please seriously consider these things before giving an animal as a gift.
If you have given the idea careful consideration and are absolutely positive you are ready to add a new friend to your family, please visit your local shelter rather than buy from a breeder. There are literally thousands of amazing dogs and cats available for adoption. Besides the obvious cool factor of saving a life, the benefits of adopting include the reduction of demand seen by puppy mill owners and irresponsible breeders*, adopting an animal that’s already spayed or neutered, setting a great example with friends and family, and earning the unconditional love of your new little buddy! Here’s a list of Houston-area animal shelters that have some pretty amazing furry friends looking for new homes. If you live outside of Houston, check out www.Petfinder.org to find out what super cool animals are available for adoption in your area.
5. Houston SPCA
If you are already proud animal owner, please keep in mind that a lot of the great things about the holiday season I mentioned previously can actually pose a direct threat to pets. For example, leaving pets outside for extended periods of time during cold weather is never a good idea. And, as tempting as it may be to cave in to those puppy dog eyes, feeding your pet the rich foods we humans enjoy this time of year can lead to severe gastrointestinal stress, which can quickly become serious, such as a case of bloat or gastric torsion. Turkey and other bones may splinter causing intestinal blockage and many other health issues. Also keep in mind that decorations (namely plants) can poison your curious fur baby if ingested.
Last but not least, keep in mind that just because you may not have animals around doesn’t mean you can’t help out this season. Consider giving a monetary or in-kind donation (blankets, food, clinic supplies, administrative supplies, and even pet store gift cards) to your local shelter. Every little bit helps and truly makes a difference in the life of a homeless animal.
As you celebrate this holiday season, don’t forget about our furry friends. They need love and companionship just as much as we do.
*Not all breeders are irresponsible. I know several responsible breeders who truly care about the overall well-being of their animals and are not just breeding to make a profit. Unfortunately, the case remains that for every one responsible breeder, there are 2 or 3 who are not. Puppy mills are a huge problem in our country. The animals in puppy mills are forced to live in deplorable conditions. They receive little food and water, are forced to live in cages 24/7, receive no basic care and are often sick and in pain, and many times suffer abuse at the hands of the breeders.
If you do decide to purchase an animal from a breeder, please do your homework. Insist on visiting the breeder’s home base, meeting the mother and if possible, the father of the animal you’re interesting in purchasing, get health and shot records, etc. Make sure your breeder is on the up and up. And if you have any doubts or reservations, don’t buy. Contact your local law enforcement voice your concern. You can make a difference in the fight against puppy mills.