Santa Claus and his elves are working overtime at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter this holiday season. The jolly guy and his buddies are ready to deliver any animal adopted from the shelter to loving families in the area on Christmas Eve.
Santa Claus delivery has become an annual tradition at the shelter, where placing pre-adopted animals in loving homes is a perk of the job, said Dylan Moore, the shelter’s director of adoptions. Moore, an imposing guy who stands well over 6-feet-tall, enjoys dressing up as Santa Claus and delivering furry friends to awe-struck children and their families.
He plans to do it again this year and hopes to enlist an elf or two – members of his staff or volunteers – as helpers. Potential adopters are welcome to pre-adopt the animals and the shelter will hold them until the Christmas Eve delivery. The adoptions must take place by Dec. 24; there is no cost for the delivery, although a donation is always appreciated.
“People really do enjoy this fun service,” Moore said. “Anyone who adopts any animal – snake, rabbit, gerbil, cat, dog, kitten or puppy – can take advantage of the special delivery.”
In the past, some animal shelters have put up roadblocks to “pets as gifts,” Moore noted, but that notion has been changing nationwide. A recent survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that people who received pets as gifts did not increase the risk of relinquishment.
There’s a difference between a father or mother adopting a dog or cat as a gift for a child as opposed to simply showing up with a companion animal for a neighbor or friend without them knowing, Moore said. Most people understand that not everyone is ready for a surprise gift of any kind.
Adopters still fill out a questionnaire to ensure that they get the best match for their family, he said. High-energy animals, for example, may not be suited for people with mobility issues, and allergies are always a concern, as well as rental contracts that forbid companion animals.
“Our goal is to make everyone happy – humans and animals,” he said. “A companion animal can bring a family a lifetime of joy, but it has to be the best fit.”
The ASPCA study backs up an earlier study of about 2,600 dogs and 2,300 cats relinquished to 12 shelters in four regions of the U.S. It found that dogs relinquished to the shelters had most frequently come from friends, shelters and breeders. Relinquished dogs infrequently came from pet shops, as gifts or from veterinarians. That study, the ASPCA noted, found that the odds of dog relinquishment were higher when getting an animal from a shelter, a friend, as a stray or from a pet shop, compared to receiving an animal as a gift. Similarly, the ASPCA said most cats relinquished to shelters had originally come from friends, as strays and from shelters. Relinquished cats infrequently came from breeders, veterinarians, or were gifts.
The survey findings help open new adoption options for shelters, the ASPCA noted. The national group recommends that people should give pets as gifts only to those people who have expressed an interest in owning one and have the ability to care for it responsibly.
For more information about adopting an animal from the shelter for Christmas Eve, contact an adoption counselor at 983-4309, ext. 610.