Add fur to your family

Helping pets find a forever home for the holidays

The idea of “Home for the Holidays” has a special meaning for dogs and cats hoping the New Year finds them in their forever homes.

Local animal shelters are taking advantage of the holidays to encourage families who are looking to adopt a pet to take the leap, with special adoption events and discounted fees.

The Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter in Milton is hosting the Home for the Holidays adoption event on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. which will offer dogs and cats for just a $20 adoption fee and a voucher for free sterilization for any animal that has not already been altered.

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One of the kittens hoping to be adopted at the Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter. Louis Cooper/PensacolaToday.com

Normally, the adoption fee is $20 for unaltered dogs and $10 for unaltered cats, plus the cost of sterilizing the animal.

“December can be a great time to welcome a new pet to your home because children are out of school and a family may be home more, helping to better transition the pet into the home,” said Santa Rosa County spokeswoman Joy Tsubooka.

“As for giving pets as a gift, it really depends on the situation,” she said. “Instead of a surprise, we recommend making the trip to the shelter with the recipient as part of the gift process. This also helps match the right pet with the recipient.”

The Humane Society of Pensacola is in the midst of its 12 Strays of Christmas adoption event, which runs through Dec. 23. That event offers featured dogs for $40 and cats for $10.  Usually, the Humane Society’s fees for dogs ranges from $75 to $90 and $35 to $50 for cats.

All animals adopted out by the Humane Society are spayed/neutered, microchipped and up-to-date on basic vaccines, according to Linda Hoan, lead adoption counselor at the Humane Society.

One of the dogs hoping to be adopted at the Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter. Louis Cooper/PensacolaToday.com

One of the dogs hoping to be adopted at the Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter. Louis Cooper/PensacolaToday.com

“The ‘12 Strays of Christmas’ promotion is a way of featuring a different cat or dog each day. Essentially, it allows them to have their ‘15 minutes of fame,’” Hoan said “Potential adopters can get to know a specific animal more in-depth and adopt that particular animal for a discounted fee.”

The Humane Society does not allow animals to be adopted as surprise gifts and requires that all members of a family meet the pet before the adoption, Hoan said.

The Escambia County Animal Shelter held the Clear the Kennels event Dec. 5-6, adopting out 50 dogs and 18 cats with four more dogs sent to rescue programs.

“Clear the Kennels was the last adoption event for the year but we still have lots of great dogs and cats available for adoption,” said Brandi Ziglar, an Escambia County spokeswoman. “Escambia County will host another Clear the Kennels event in March, we are hoping to make it a quarterly event.”

While not every animal lover may be in the market for a new fur baby, they can still have a positive impact on the shelters where cats and dogs are waiting for their forever families.

Santa Rosa County has the Partners for Pets program, which allows donors to contribute to the Milton shelter in someone’s name and the shelter will send the honoree a card informing them of the gift.

A pup awaiting adoption at the Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter. Louis Cooper/PensacolaToday.com

A pup awaiting adoption at the Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter. Louis Cooper/PensacolaToday.com

Since it began in 2009, the Partners for Pets program has raised more than $108,000, although much of that was a single estate donation this year.

“Unlike national donation programs, 100 percent of all Partners for Pets donations directly benefits animals in Santa Rosa County,” Tsubooka said.

“The donations are used to support and enhance programs that may not be covered by general fund expenditures — educational outreach efforts on the benefits of spaying and neutering your pets, adoption events and spaying and neutering.”

The Santa Rosa shelter also accepts material gifts, including dog/cat food, toys, linens, blankets, non-clumping cat litter, bleach and almost anything else that can be used to care for animals.

The Humane Society and Escambia County shelter also accept cash and material donations.