This year’s Iams Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption drive at the Etobicoke Humane Society (EHS) is about more than just finding forever homes for the 60 cats and 10 dogs they currently shelter.
“This is Christmas time: a time to share and give back to whatever has provided you with happiness and love throughout the year – and pets are that for a lot of people,” said Jennie Grado, a member of EHS’s board of directors.
“The Iams Home 4 the Holidays program talks about donating to your shelter, it talks about volunteering, it talks about finding out what your shelter’s wish list is. And that overall messaging really aligns with what we do as a volunteer operation.”
Now in its 14th year, the Iams Home 4 the Holidays campaign remains focused on raising awareness of pet adoption, while also ensuring proper nutrition for more homeless pets this year.
To participate, animal lovers can lend a hand in several different ways: by adopting a homeless animal; by volunteering to care for the animals at your local shelter; or by donating through Bags 4 Bowls, through which Iams will donate one bowl of food to participating animal organizations for every specially marked package of Iams pet food purchased during the campaign.
This year the Iams Home 4 the Holidays program, which runs through Jan. 2, is celebrating more than seven million pets adopted out since its inception.
“With as many as 36 per cent of animals euthanized every year in Canadian shelters, this campaign is a wonderful platform to raise awareness about pet adoption and homelessness,” Barbara Cartwright, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, said in a statement. “This year, we hope to debunk the myths that surround shelter animals and place deserving pets into the homes of loving families.”
At EHS – a no-kill animal shelter – those deserving pets looking for their forever families include twin cuddle brothers Rigby and Murphy, and shy girl Bailey.
Surrendered to the EHS back in April, Rigby and Murphy are identical nine-month-old, jet black cats who are so playfully affectionate, they were recently promoted to office cat status.
“They are so chill, but everything they do they do passionately. When they’re playing, they’re like kittens...and when they chill, they’re fully committed to chilling – like right now,” Grado said laughing, as Rigby lazed comfortably on a window sill and Murphy purred audibly, curled up in an office chair. “They’re both very friendly and very sociable.”
A fairly new addition to the EHS family, Bailey is a one-and-a-half-year-old Miniature Doberman Pinscher surrendered to the shelter just this week, because her previous owners moved into a condo.
“Hers is kind of the best case surrender story,” Grado said, as Bailey timidly explored EHS’s new dog space. “We don’t like animals to have to go through this, but this is a good case – there’s been no neglect; she’s obviously healthy and cared for. And she’s very gentle.”
While getting animals like Rigby, Murphy and Bailey adopted out to loving homes remains the primary goal for EHS, Grado said EHS’s volunteer staff won’t compromise their standards just because it’s Christmas.
“We will be maintaining our adoption policies that are in the best interests of the animals,” she said, noting that EHS screens its prospective pet owners pretty heavily. “The days of puppies with bows around their necks under the Christmas tree are gone...Those are Julia Roberts movies – that’s not responsible pet ownership or adoption, and it’s not responsible on our part.”
And, of course, taking great care of their animals while they wait for their forever families is always of great importance. For Grado and the all-volunteer team at EHS, what that translates to is a need for donations.
“Number one on our wish list this holiday season is donations. We are 100 per cent volunteer and donation based,” she said, noting that EHS’s operating costs have only increased since they moved to their new, spacious digs on Six Point Road back in May. “We’ve increased the number of animals we care for in house, so we need increased support from the community.”
Beyond cash donations, Grado said the shelter is also always in need of animal-loving volunteers to help feed, walk, care for, and play with the dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals EHS shelters throughout the year.
For more information or to donate, go to EHS’s website at www.etobicokehumanesociety.com or visit their page on Facebook.