Animals and pets serve an important part in the lives of human beings. They are those friends and companions that give people love unconditionally. They protect people’s homes and are there whenever they are needed, asking for nothing but love and tenderness in exchange for all they give.
Operation Santa Paws Day is a reminder that we need to return that love, and remember them at this most special time of year!
History of Operation Santa Paws
Every year there is a large number of poor animals who, through abuse and neglect, wind up abandoned in shelters and animal rescues everywhere. All too often these pets are given as birthday or Christmas gifts and then simply abandoned as the shine wears off the newest puppy or the kitten gets grown-up. This is especially true if the new pet has some struggles or difficulties, or the gift giver and recipient don’t understand that a pet is for life, not just for Christmas.
Whatever the case, millions of animals worldwide will end up in shelters each year, and there simply are not enough resources to support them all. This is where Operation Santa Paws Day comes in.
Organized by Justin Rudd in 2001, this important day was originally put together in Long Beach, California in the United States to help support their local shelters and rescue animals. As part of the Haute Dogs Organization (pronounced “Hot Dogs”, the idea was to encourage various people of the public to participate by donating new toys, treats, food or money to help keep these dedicated and loyal servants of the world going.
Since that time in 2001, Justin and Haute Dogs have spread this campaign far and wide, getting stores and individuals all around the nation to participate in this humanitarian effort. Some groups or businesses will hold various events and gatherings where folks can volunteer, or attend a meet & greet event with adoptable pets from a shelter or rescue center.
How to Celebrate Operation Santa Paws
Celebrating Operation Santa Paws days can be a delightful and satisfying event. Enjoying it can happen in a number of ways, from donating toys and treats to more dedicated efforts like volunteering at a shelter. Try out these ideas for celebrating the day and making animals a priority this time of year:
Thank an Animal Shelter Worker
This day is about the animals, but without the support of those individuals who love them and dedicate themselves to their welfare, there’d be nowhere for them to go. When you stop by with a donation of supplies for the furry residents of your local shelter, don’t forget to bring down some tokens of thanks for these hard-working saviors of those favorite little beasties.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
During the cold, winter months, animal shelters have a tendency to become very full. Donating time to a shelter by volunteering can be just as useful as offering up toys, pet food or treats. Plus, it’s a great way to get to know the animals better and make a difference to them, not just at Christmas but all year round.
Adopt a Pet from a Shelter
Of course, this step is not for everyone, but those who feel like they would make good animal parents might take this time of year to consider adopting a pet that needs a home.
Pet ownership can certainly be a rewarding enterprise, but it does come with a number of added responsibilities. Consider these questions when thinking about adopting a pet:
- How Much Time Do I Have For a Pet? People who work 60-70 hours a week or are gone for 12 hour shifts at a time may not have the time to give to a pet. But families who have members who have lots of time to devote to walking, playing with, and training a cat or dog should consider it.
- Can I Afford a Pet? Even though they’re small, some pets require a large financial commitment. From food and vet bills to obedience school and kenneling while on vacation, pets can cost several hundred dollars every year, or sometimes more.
- What Pet Is Best for My Lifestyle? Generally, dogs need more attention and affection than cats. They need to be walked and cleaned up after, while cats can use a litter box and don’t need the same kinds of exercise. Knowing your own lifestyle, for instance as a homebody or a traveller, helps to make a better match with a pet.
Spread the Word About Operation Santa Paws
Operation Santa Paws is still primarily operating out of California, but with the efforts of friends and companies, this phenomenon can spread. Visit a local pet store and enlist their help in collecting supplies. Also, ask if they would be willing to put out a collection poster and post a wish list at their locations. (These resources are available on http://www.hautedogs.org/santapaws as templates).
Also, be sure to contact the shelters in the area that will benefit from your efforts, and let them know they have an ally in their mission to help animals. And don’t forget to remind friends and family about this celebration to get them to join in. Share it on social media or simply bring it up in conversation and encourage others to participate in this important event as well.