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Open your heart to a shelter

Tuesday, February 18, 2014   by: Greener Ideal

There’s no better way to beat the cold than to curl up with a warm-blooded pet, and if you’ve been hoping to open your home to a new furry friend, there’s no better time than this Valentine’s Day.

Shelters nationwide are holding special events and promotions this Friday to encourage adoptions and raise funds and awareness for their cause. Many are offering discounted adoptions — typically 50% off or $14 for February 14th — and some are waiving fees entirely. Others are offering free or reduced adoptions specifically for pit bulls (which unfortunately make up the bulk of shelter dog populations), senior animals or other select pets. Spaying/neutering and microchipping is often included in the deal, and some shelters are extending the promotion to the full weekend or even the end of the month. There’s a good chance your local shelter is running some kind of promotion, so make sure to call and ask about their special deal.

A couple shelters are really pulling out the stops for Valentine’s Day. Virginia’s Fairfax County Animal Shelter is offering cuddle-therapy sessions with kittens, bunnies, guinea pigs and puppies (nine chocolate lab/Australian shepherd mixes), fee-waived adoptions for the 10 animals who have been at the shelter longest, and free candy and ice cream for visitors. Over on the west coast, the San Francisco SPCA is holding a weekend-long Adopt-a-Thon with fee-waived adoptions, plus $40 pet-themed flash tattoos from Let It Bleed Parlor, free dental checks, an open bar, and food trucks featuring vegan treats.

If you’re not looking to take home a new pet just yet, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate your love for animals. Consider purchasing an adoption for a friend or loved one (many shelters offer gift certificates for this purpose), or sponsoring a farm animal or wild animal in a sanctuary (the Farm Sanctuary is a good example). You could also donate a number of simple household items to your local shelter, including blankets, newspapers, paper towels, laundry detergent, heating pads, cleaning supplies and any pet food and items. If you really want to get inspired, check out this yarn-bombing project by local knitters in Collingswood, NJ. Contributors will donate all the garments they made to a local animal shelter after displaying them through February.

Valentine’s Day aside, February is an ideal month to welcome a new pet into your home. The cold weather ensures lots of opportunity for bonding and training indoors, which helps to pass the time pleasantly over an otherwise gloomy winter season.

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