Although a puppy under the tree on Christmas morning might seem like the perfect gift, animals don’t come with a 14-day return policy. While organizations such as the Calgary Humane Society (CHS) do their best to educate those looking to adopt, they strongly discourage pet gifting.
“We do get people who say ‘I want to surprise a member of my family,’ and we discourage that,” says Sage Pullen McIntosh, CHS’s senior manager of communications and community relations. “Instead, we’ll say, ‘what about buying a gift certificate and surprising them with that?’ Then they can come and pick the animal that they think is going to be best suited to them. It’s a really personal thing. It’s an animal that you want in your home or in your life for their lifetime. It’s really important that [the person receiving the gift] is involved.”
Instead of gifting an animal, here are some more responsible ways to make pets part of the holiday experience
Adoption Gift Card
Purchase a card to pay the entire adoption fee towards a new pet or a smaller denomination to go towards the total cost.
Calgary Humane Society, 403-205-4455, calgaryhumane.ca
Foster an Animal
Organizations such as the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) are always seeking loving foster parents to care for animals until they can be adopted. While you must be prepared to show the pet to prospective adopters, fostering is free and all food and medical care is provided.
Animal Rescue Foundation, arf.ab.ca
Sponsor a Service Dog
For less than 50 cents a day, you can sponsor a puppy’s training to become a future service dog that could greatly enhance the life of a person who needs it. Sponsors receive progress reports, photos and letters from their sponsored pup, and other perks depending on the chosen sponsorship program. For a unique gift, you can sponsor the puppy in a loved one’s name.
BC and Alberta Guide Dogs Calgary office, 403-258-0819, bcandalbertaguidedogs.com
Fundraise for a Cat Shelter
If you and your family are cat lovers, instead of giving and receiving gifts this year consider starting an online fundraising page for the MEOW Foundation. All funds raised go to helping the kittens at the shelter and uphold the foundation’s “no kill” mandate.
MEOW Foundation, 403-230-6033, meowfoundation.com
Organizations that cater to animal rescue and adoption are always looking for volunteers. At the Calgary Humane Society, volunteer roles vary from spending time with the animals to helping during surgical procedures. Volunteer with a loved one during the holidays and give the gift of giving.