They say it’s better to give than to receive. This year, if you make the right gift choices, both you and your recipient can feel good about it. So let your holiday spending be a statement of compassion toward everyone who shares the planet with us. Here are some animal friendly and humanitarian gift giving ideas:

Adopt an endangered animal through Defenders of Wildlife. This is one of my favorite gifts to give–the Defenders of Wildlife have 30 endangered animals you can choose from to adopt. You can adopt a single animal or an entire family. 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! With the adoption you receive a cuddly plush animal, activity booklet, personalized certificate of adoption, 5×7 photo, animal fact sheet, and eco-friendly reusable tote. Named “America’s Best Wildlife Charity” by Reader’s Digest, Defenders of Wildlife has been a leading innovator in developing the most effective ways to conserve imperiled wildlife and wilderness for over 65 years. Your adoption donation will immediately be put to use where it is most needed to achieve these goals. For more information on adopting an endangered animal, visit

Shop at the Animal Rescue Site store, each item you buy also helps fund food and care for animals–at no extra cost to you. For each item purchased, 3 percent to 50 percent of its retail price is kept aside for charity partners through Funding goes to their charity partners on the ground: The Fund for Animals and Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and Rescue Bank. Together, they’re making the world a better place for rescued animals. For more information, visit theanimalrescuesite.

It’s okay to give animals as gifts. Yes, you read that right. Although many animal shelters still have policies that state that pets should not be adopted as gifts, based on the longstanding belief that animals who weren’t specifically chosen by their new owners may be considered less valuable. However, a 2013 study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) found that there is no correlation between getting an animal as a gift and an owner’s love and attachment to the pet–even if that pet was a surprise gift–and there was no increased risk of relinquishment for dogs and cats received as gifts. According to the ASPCA, “These are exciting findings that may help open new adoption options for shelters, allowing more animals to be placed in loving homes.” The ASPCA recommends the giving of pets as gifts only to people who have expressed a sustained interest in owning one, and who have the ability to care for it responsibly. If you aren’t sure if your recipient is ready for a pet, place a stuffed animal in a box filled with needed pet supplies–food, leashes, toys, etc. Then you can suggest a trip to your local humane society to adopt a pet if your recipient is ready.

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 online donations. Here are some local animal charities in Santa Barbara to choose from:







Santa Barbara Humane Society:

By thinking of others 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

Elsa has spent most of her life at B.U.N.S. She was just a young bunny when she was rescued behind a Trader Joe’s, in the summer of 2012. Very shy and sensitive, she is often overlooked by B.U.N.S visitors. Elsa needs her independence, but always appreciates a soft word, a hug, and a pet on the forehead. She’s grown into a big, beautiful girl, patiently waiting for the right person to stop by and see and appreciate her for who she is, and include her as part of their family.


Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter (B.U.N.S.) is a volunteer organization that cares for abandoned rabbits. B.U.N.S is located at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Rd. B.U.N.S. works to find bunnies permanent homes, and educates the public on caring for a companion rabbit. You can call the County Shelter at 805-681-5285 or call B.U.N.S. at 805-683-0521 and leave a message for someone to call you back. For more information, visit

This time of year, B.U.N.S. really relies on the generosity of the public to help fund spays and neuters of all the rabbits that come into their care. Please consider making a donation this year.

Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions,


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.