Adoption: Home 4 the Holidays

More than 1,000 animal shelters in 50 states and 17 other countries will join paws this holiday season to find homes for 250,000 orphaned dogs and cats. This effort is called Home 4 the Holidays 2002.

The first holiday pet adoption drive, which seeks to find loving homes for needy dogs and cats in December, began in 1999 when the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, California, organized 14 San Diego area shelters to find homes for orphaned pets during the holiday season.

According to Nathan Winograd, executive director of the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithaca, New York, for too many years, shelters have refused to adopt pets close to the holidays because of fears that these animals would be adopted without
much thought and without an appreciation of the lifetime needs of caring for a pet.

Winograd says that many people thought that a puppy under the tree in December would be a dog languishing in the backyard or right back to the shelter in January.

It made sense on an intuitive level, he says. Unfortunately, the end result was that shelters destroyed healthy animals without ever giving them a chance.

Prior to the implementation of Home 4 the Holidays, the San Francisco SPCA bucked the trend and holiday adoptions were tracked over a ten-year period. The finding: the return rate for pets adopted in December was actually lower than the rest of the year, Winograd says. And no evidence was found that December adoptions were to homes that were somehow less responsible or loving than at any other time of the year.

Home 4 the Holidays will continue to break records, says Michael Arms, president of Helen Woodward Animal Center. What better gift can any of us give during the holiday season than to save the life of an orphaned animal?

Arms says that adopting a shelter pet during the holidays is not just a good idea, its a necessity. More families invite pets into their homes during the holidays than any other time of year. If our shelters turn them away, we may as well send them to a puppy mill while the orphans in our kennels are dying.