Given the current state of the economy, gift giving this holiday season is going to be tough on a lot of people. However, if you are an animal lover, you can choose to buy inexpensive gifts for your loved ones that will benefit animals. Here are just a few ideas:

Buy heartwarming animal books starting at $7

A Dog Named Christmas, by Greg Kincaid. This is a wonderful story about an adoptive dog and his impact on both a family and a whole town. The book reminds readers of the importance of the spirit of giving and the needs of homeless pets. It also directs readers to Petfinder to find adoptable pets on its jacket flap. To buy this book, visit:

“Let’s Get a Pup!” Said Kate, by Bob Graham. This book is about a young girl who has grown lonesome for a new pet. Mom and Dad quickly catch Kate’s enthusiasm when she suggests, “Let’s get a pup!” and the family heads to the local animal Rescue Center. But instead of a puppy, the family rescues a large, sweet-natured older dog that tugs at their hearts. To buy this book, visit:

A Home for Nathan, by Claudia Roll. This book traces the true story of a young unwanted cat as he is cared for at an animal shelter and finally adopted into the loving home that every cat deserves. The book gives children a positive introduction to animal shelters and emphasizes humane concepts such as compassion and responsible pet care. To buy this book, visit:

Go Home!: The True Story of James the Cat, by Libby Phillips Meggs. Based on a true story, this book teaches children about kindness. It’s a story about an older cat, a cat with a collar, that everyone assumes has a home. In reality, though, the cat is lost, hungry, and desolate. The book follows the cat on its rounds from winter to late summer, eventually showing how a family that once dismissed the animal comes to its rescue. To buy this book, visit:

Choose holiday cards from the Humane Society of the United States for just $12.95

Start the holiday season off right by buying holiday cards from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). HSUS has a vast array of holiday cards to choose from with cats, dogs, wildlife, and the entire animal kingdom. You can buy them for yourself or as a gift to someone else. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these cards goes to help the HSUS with their active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, animals in research, and farm animals. They help protect all animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education, advocacy, and field work. Holiday cards start at $12.95. For more information on holiday cards, visit

Adopt an endangered animal through Defenders of Wildlife starting at $15

Defenders of Wildlife has over 25 endangered animals you can choose from to adopt. Adoptions are a wonderful way to protect endangered wild animals and share the importance of conservation. I have given this as a gift to young children and they love it! Adoptions start at $20. With the adoption you receive a cuddly plush animal, activities booklet, personalized certificate of adoption, 5×7 photo, animal fact sheet, and gift wrap with eco-friendly reusable tote. Defenders of Wildlife are encouraging wolf adoptions right now as aerial hunters are gunning down wolves from airplanes in Alaska or running them to exhaustion and then shooting them at point-blank range. You can give a special tax-deductible gift to help save the lives of these magnificent animals by adopting a wolf, wolf pack, or wolf mom and pup for a loved one or friend. For more information on adopting an endangered animal, visit

Purchase items that give back to veterans for just $16

When you purchase the dog toy My Good Dog’s Chewy Shoe, $2 will be donated to the Dog Tags program, a program to train and provide service dogs to injured United States veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. You can go to this website to purchase the toy, 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

Give a cruelty-free gift basket for under $20

Give a cruelty-free gift basket filled with products that have not been tested on animals. Fill the basket with products from Burt’s Bees, Avalon Organics, Jason, and 100% Pure. Whole Foods Market has gift sets of many of these products starting at $20, all you’ll need is a basket! Your special someone will know that you care enough to give a gift that saves the lives of rabbits, and so many other beautiful furry animals.

Buy fur-free UGG boots, starting at $20

Most people are unaware that UGG boots are 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. I actually bought a pair last year and they’re great!

Give to local charities in lieu of gifts

Instead of giving physical gifts this holiday season, why not donate to a local 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 local charities in Santa Barbara to choose from:







Santa Barbara Humane Society

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 as a gift, 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.

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.


Adoptable Pet of the Week

Polo is an 11-year-old male neutered Chihuahua mix. He is known at the Humane Society as our “cuddle bug.” He loves to snuggle and be close to those he loves, which could include adults, gentle kids, other small dogs, and even cats! He is very good-natured and has never snapped or growled at anyone. Polo is past the “ puppy crazies” (born in 1999), calm and affectionate. He is in good health and has lots and lots of love to give to the person or family he hopes to meet soon!

For more information, visit the Santa Barbara Humane Society at 5399 Overpass Road, or call 964-4777. Shelter hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. You can also visit for more information.


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