KANAB — How can Southern Utahns help pets this holiday season?

A dog peaks out from under a holiday-themed blanket, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society, St. George News

Gift-giving season is upon us, and with that comes images of adorable puppies and kittens peeking out from under the tree. Families across the country try and recreate this picturesque moment by bringing a pet of their own into their homes during the most wonderful time of the year.

“A puppy and kitten are staples on children’s holiday wish lists each year,” said Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “As an animal welfare organization, we encourage families to open their hearts and homes during the holidays, but also hope they choose to do so by adopting and not buying a homeless pet.”

Research done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information has shown that pets received as gifts are not loved less than those adopted by more traditional means, nor are they relinquished at higher rates.

“There is a shelter crisis going on across the country,” Castle continued. “Getting pets out of shelters and into loving homes at any time of the year is something we want and need community members across the country to do. The main point I do want to drill home is that it’s essential that people understand that where they get the pet from can either help or hurt efforts to end the killing of pets in shelters.”

In this file photo, a dog enjoys Christmas gifts at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, undated | Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society, St. George News

So, this holiday season, here are some do’s and don’ts to follow when thinking of bringing home a pet:

Do visit your local animal shelter or rescue group. According to data from Best Friends Animal Society, 1,000 dogs and cats are killed every day simply because they don’t have a safe place to call home.

Not only will you be saving a life, but a lot of shelter pets have been part of a family and will adapt quickly to being in a home again.

Do take the time to research what type of pet would fit best into your lifestyle. Adoption counselors and shelter staff can provide backgrounds on pets and help people decide what type of pet would be a match.

Don’t surprise your family with a pet without consulting everyone in your household and making sure everyone is committed to caring and loving the pet.

In this file photo, bunnies Cupid and Daisy show off their holiday cheer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, undated | Photo by Molly Wald, Best Friends Animal Society, St. George News

Don’t buy a pet from a breeder, pet store or online retailer. Aside from giving a loving home to a pet in need, adopting diverts money away from the inhumane puppy mill industry that churns out millions of puppies annually for sale through pet stores and online retailers.

Adoptions are free through the month of November, thanks to Bounty Paper Towels, who are picking up adoption fees at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and at Best Friends Lifesaving Centers throughout the country.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is open daily (including Thanksgiving) at 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Meet dogs and cats at Roxy’s Room and gift store inside the Welcome Center or in the Adoption Hub at Puppy Preschool in Dogtown.

To preview adoptable pets, visit Best Friends’ website.

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