This year let your holiday spending be a statement of compassion toward all creatures who share the planet. Here are some animal friendly gift-giving ideas that won’t break the bank.
Adopt an Endangered Animal
The non-profit group Defenders of Wildlife has more than 25 endangered animals you can choose from to adopt. You can show you care by supporting an organization that protects endangered animals and their habitats. Not only do you provide Defenders of Wildlife with funding for their worthwhile cause, but you also get an 8” tall plush animal, a personalized certificate of adoption, a 5x7 photo, and a fact sheet, all for $25. I personally have a wolf, owl, and turtle that were given to me as gifts and they will soon be given to my child as toys. Visit Defenders of Wildlife’s website for more information: secure.defenders.org
Give a cruelty-free gift basket filled with products that have not been tested on animals and do not contain any fur products. Fill the basket with products from Avalon Organics, Aveda, Burt’s Bees, The Body Shop, Jason, 100% Pure, or other companies that don’t test their products on animals. Here in Santa Barbara, Lazy Acres has gift sets of many of these products starting at just $20, so all you’ll need is a basket!
Most people are unaware that UGG boots are really sheep skin and are considered fur. However, there are a variety of non-sheep skin UGG’s for a third of the price on Amazon.
Don’t Give Animals as Gifts
Animals given as gifts are often unwanted after the excitement of the holiday season has ended. Instead of giving a live animal, place a stuffed animal in a box filled with needed pet supplies—food, leashes, bowls, toys, etc., then you can suggest a trip to your local animal shelter to adopt a pet if your recipient is ready. By doing this, you will also ensure that the recipient bonds with the pet before they make a lifelong commitment.
Purchase Items That Give Back to Charities and Veterans
When you purchase the dog toy “My Good Dog’s Chewy Shoe,” $2 will be donated to the Dog Tags program, which trains and provides service dogs to injured United States veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. You can go to this website to purchase the toy: mygooddog.com. What’s also great about this program is that the service dogs in the program are trained by inmates in New York City-area correctional institutions as part of the Puppies Behind Bars initiative. For more information on the Puppies Behind Bars initiative, visit puppiesbehindbars.com.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has partnered with companies that give a portion of your purchase right back to the HSUS. For example, if you’re looking to give a magazine subscription as a gift, purchase the subscription from this website magfundraising.com and the HSUS will get a portion. There’s also free-trade, certified organic coffee that benefits the HSUS when purchased: groundsforchange.com
Give to Local Charities in Lieu of Gifts
Instead of giving physical gifts this holiday season, why not donate to an area charity in honor of your recipient. Most charities will mail your gift recipient a notification upon request. You can also avoid traffic and long lines as most of these charities allow for on-line donations. Here are some Santa Barbara charities to choose from:
* All For Animals: allforanimals.com
* ASAP: asapcats.org
* B.U.N.S: bunssb.org
* C.A.R.E.4Paws: care4paws.org
* DAWG: sbdawg.net
* K-9 PALS: k9pals.org
* RESQCATS: resqcats.org
* Santa Barbara Humane Society: sbhumanesociety.org
* Animal Adoption Solutions (full disclosure, I’m the executive director): animaladoptionsolutions.com
By thinking of animals during this holiday shopping season, you will not only save lives, but you will share the gift of compassion with those you care about.
ASAP and K-9PALS announces their “Home for the Holidays Adoption Fair” Saturday, December 5, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday, December 6, 12-4 p.m. The Santa Barbara County Shelter, K-9 PALS, and ASAP (Animal Shelter Assistance Program) will be hosting the event for homeless dogs and cats. There will be a bake sale, face painting, and additional activities including a raffle to help support shelter programs. The adoption fees for both dogs and cats will be reduced for this special holiday fair. They hope to have as many dogs and cats as possible find their forever homes in time for the holidays. Visit the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter at 5473 Overpass Rd.
C.A.R.E.4Paws has their third Project ResponsiBull session starting in December, with classes on December 2, 9, and 12, at Camp Canine at 6:30 p.m. They also have a free mixed breed class starting Monday, November 30th (also for three weeks) at 6:30pm at Camp Canine.
Additionally, C.A.R.E.4Paws will be offering a one-day Project ResponsiBull workshop January 16 in Lompoc, and it’s open to shelter volunteers as well as the public.
C.A.R.E.4Paws—short for Community Awareness, Responsibility, Education—started its spay/neuter program with the goal of reducing the large population of unwanted dogs and cats in Santa Barbara County. To learn more about C.A.R.E.4Paws and its different programs and upcoming events, visit care4paws.org.