Holiday shopping at the animal shelter
Gifts for all your animal-loving friends
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By Mickey Zeldes  December 7, 2012 12:00 am

Having a hard time finding the perfect gift for your family or friends? We have some suggestions, but it assumes they love animals. For the person who has everything, give a gift of a donation in their name to the shelter. We will send a nice card letting the recipient know you thought of them by donating to save a life (or at least make it more comfortable) of a needy animal.

If your friends have pets, here are a few gifts that will bring out a purr or tail wag. We have a limited number of ASL bottled dog biscuits available for just $5. These wine bottles are filled with small biscuits sure to please any dog. For the cat lovers in your life, we have cute cardboard Kitty Kastles – the kids can color them in (a great rainy day activity), and your kitty will love sleeping inside his or her own little house. These are also available for just $5.

Our crafty volunteers have whipped up some cute earrings, some have animal themes but not all ($15), hot mitts ($5), and laminated bookmarks ($1 – a great stocking stuffer) and we have some shelter and Mutt Strut T-Shirts available too. If you have a little animal lover in your family, we have just the thing – a beautiful hardbound children’s book and CD of animal safety songs available for only $15 (my 5-year-old nephew absolutely loved it!).

Some people consider giving a pet as a holiday gift. That’s a great idea for parents to give their children – as long as they are realistic about who will be taking care of the creature. A rat, guinea pig or hamster is a great first pet for a child, and we have several nice ones available for adoption. Don’t worry about holding the animal until Christmas day, either. Most children can understand Santa can’t carry live animals in his sleigh with all the other toys and has made arrangements for them to arrive safely on a different day.

Surprising a friend with an animal can backfire, especially if they are not in a financial position to take on that additional expense. A pet is a gift that comes with a hefty price tag attached – food, litter, toys and vet care can add up over the lifetime of an animal so it really is a big, personal, decision to become a pet parent. As is the actual selection of the pet – it’s hard to define what attracts us to a particular animal but it’s definitely not something that you can do for another person – even for a spouse you feel you know really well.

So, if you are thinking of getting someone a pet, here’s a suggestion. Buy some supplies for the type of pet you have in mind – perhaps a food dish or a toy and gift wrap it. Stop in to our shelter and pick up a gift certificate (no charge at this time), which states you are offering to pay the adoption fee for the pet of their choice and give that with the gift. That way, if they react with “Are you crazy – I can’t take on a pet right now,” you aren’t out much, and you are also not committed to finding an animal at just one shelter. If the reaction is what you’d hoped, “Oh how nice!” you and the recipient can go shelter shopping together – she can pick out the perfect animal and you can pay! That way, they not only get a nice gift – you get to spend a fun day together – and help get an animal into a home in time for the holidays. And while you are here you can pick up a few of the other things mentioned for the rest of the animal-lovers on your shopping list!

Upcoming events:
Meet the Bunny, Saturday, Dec. 8, 1-5 p.m. at the shelter. Meet our adoptable rabbits and have your care questions answered by our knowledgeable volunteers. Bring your bunny in for a free nail trim and be sure to shop our Bunny Boutique for fresh hay, toys and other supplies. All proceeds support our small animal program.

• Holiday Vacation Camp for kids in grades 3-6, Jan 2-4 from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Campers will socialize shelter animals, play games, do crafts and learn about responsible pet care. Cost is $75, and scholarships are available. Registration is first-come, first-serve and space is limited. Applications available at the shelter.

• Free microchips during the month of December. No appointment necessary; bring your pet and proof of residency (offer for RP and Cotati residents only) during our regular open hours: Wednesday, 1-6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 1-5:30 p.m.; Sunday 1-4:30 p.m..

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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