How to help those who help pets this holiday season
Operation Santa Paws was started by Justin Rudd in 2001 to encourage animal lovers to purchase new dog or cat toys and treats with the goal of giving every pet in shelters in neighboring cities a gift of holiday cheer. Every year, Rudd dons a Santa suit and leads a team of volunteers to the various shelters in his community to supervise the handing out the gifts before Christmas day.
Rudd, who lives in Long Beach, California, is best known for numerous pet events and charity drives he organizes annually, many of which have been copied around the country, such as his Howl’oween pet parade, Bulldog beauty contests and, of course, Operation Santa Paws.
Today, the idea has caught on nationally and there are now Operation Santa Paws drives around the country. Rudd has made it easy for anyone to start a drive in their office or own community by making all the tools needed, such as the Operation Santa Paws posters and drop off signs available on his website www.hautedogs.org To date, these drives have helped deliver toys and treats to shelters in more than 25 states, and the goal is to bring even more on board this year.
In addition to organizing a collection at the office, consider contacting local pet stores in your area and working in conjunction with them. It’s also a good idea to contact your local newspapers and other media outlets and let them know what you are doing and ask them to help you get the word out. And don’t forget to reach out directly to Rudd (Justin@JustinRudd.com) so that he can share information on his website.
Here is a list of ideas of toys, treats, gift cards and other products welcomed by most shelters:
- Durable puppy & dog toys, such as Virtually Indestructible Balls, Kong toys, Planet Dog Orbee Tuff toys, West Paw Design Zogoflex toys, etc.
- Jerky-type dog treats
- Dog and cat shampoo
- Dry puppy food
- Dry and canned kitten food
- Large and medium food/water bowls
- Durable kitten/cat toys
- Cardboard serving trays for use as litterboxes (available for purchase at Smart & Final)
- Plug-in, or durable stand-alone electric or battery-operated scent/aromatherapy machines
- Heating pads for infant animals
- Cleaning/kitchen supplies and air freshener spray, kennel cleaning supplies
- Scrub brushes, rubber curry brushes, mops, brooms, heavy-duty water hoses
- Laundry detergent, dishwashing gloves, baking soda, bleach, paper towels
- Plastic aprons or smocks
- Blankets, bath towels (used or new)
- 6-ft. nylon dog leashes
- Flannel baby blankets for kittens
- Paper towels & bathroom tissue
- Top-loading cat carriers
- Pet supply and home improvement store gift cards
- Cardboard cat scratchers
- Zippered food storage bags, all sizes
- 33- and 13-gallon trash bags
- Liquid hand soap or sanitizer
- Dishwashing detergent
- Laundry detergent
- Postage stamps
- Peanut butter
- $1 Target buckets
- Office supplies: dry erase board markers, copy paper, pens, envelopes, etc.
Financial contribution can be made payable to Operation Santa Paws and mailed to Santa Paws, 5209 E. The Toledo #1b Long Beach, CA 90803. Contributions are used to help with veterinary bills, pets with special needs, dog and cat sponsorships and foster programs.
In addition, many pet rescue organizations hold “Fur Balls” at this time of year. This is a great opportunity to enjoy an evening out and donate at the same time. Check with animal shelters in your area.
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Catster, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats