By Dr. Dan Meakin
Every year at this time, I like to remind pet lovers that as fun as it is to wrap gifts for our pets, it doesn’t hurt to expand the idea of giving.
After all, your pet hasn’t been dreaming of this year’s hottest gift, and he won’t be disappointed if he gets something as modest as a package of yummy pet treats or a single new toy.
I encourage pet lovers to be reasonable when it comes to getting gifts for their own pets – and to remember those other animals who aren’t as lucky.
The need for assistance has never been more critical in the nation’s animal shelters, where funds are tighter than ever following the massive assistance efforts put together in the wake of this year’s devastating storms and hurricanes.
Don’t forget your local shelter. Not only were many of the nation’s shelters involved in taking in animals from the disaster zone, but they’re also struggling now because donations to local charities traditionally suffer after an event on the scale of Hurricane Sandy. For local animal charities, a donation of money is most practical, but it’s not the only kind of gift that can help.
The Humane Society of the United States says it’s important to ask your local shelter what’s needed before giving. “There’s nothing worse for a shelter than to get bags of dog food or cat food they can’t use, or toys that can’t be disinfected. Storage space is always in short supply.” While perishable items or those that cannot be reused should not be given, there are a few items most any shelter can use, including old towels and newspapers.
In the coming year, the gift of your time may be appreciated most of all and there are always events that can use volunteers. However, you don’t have to volunteer in the shelter – some people find it difficult to deal with the sad reality of homeless pets.
One way to help is by getting others to donate. Find out what your local shelter needs in the way of goods and services, and then get on the phone to help get it donated by individuals and businesses in your community.
It all starts with making a decision to skip something your pet doesn’t need and then putting the money to help those pets who need just about everything. To me, it’s the best way to celebrate the season, by giving to those who really need it.
Dr. Dan Meakin is the owner of All Creatures Animal Hospital, 1894 Ohio Pike in Amelia. Call (513) 797-PETS.