Ask the Dogtor: Holiday Giving for Dog Lovers

Written by: Dr. Bo Bergman, DVM

Dr. Bo Bergman has some ideas for holiday giving for dog lovers.

[Editor's Note: Dr. Bo Bergman—a.k.a. "the Dogtor"—has graciously agreed to answer questions about dog health and care from Orvis Dogs readers. If you have a question for the Dogtor, leave it in the comments section below. Click here to read his introductory post.]

I’ve always been drawn to the “giving” side of veterinary medicine. Most veterinarians I know care deeply about animal welfare. I, for one, will never forget the impact my work at animal shelters has had on my life. I saw firsthand the way many of these animals suffer, but also the hard work individuals put in at rescue organizations to improve the quality of life of mistreated or homeless animals.

Ultimately, I think the holidays are a nice time to recognize and celebrate the power of the human-animal bond.

Luckily, there are lots of ways to help:

1. Donate to your local animal shelter or rescue. These organizations are always in need and you can contribute money or materials. Many shelters share their “wish lists” which include simple items like toys, towels, laundry detergent, and food bowls.

Did you or someone you know lose a special pet this year? Donating in a pet’s memory is always a powerful gesture. When my wife and I had to put down the first dog we owned together, my clinic staff made a donation in his honor, and it meant a lot to me.

2. If you don’t have the extra cash, consider donating your time. Shelters always rely on the work of volunteers to help care for the animals and keep the shelter running – be it walking dogs, caring for cats, helping with office tasks, providing grounds maintenance, or even fostering animals that need a temporary home environment.

3. If you’re planning on doing holiday shopping online for family or friends, consider using a site that gives a percentage of the sales back to shelters. Our local shelter, Second Chance Animal Center, has a program that allows them to receive money directly from your purchases at places like Walmart, Home Depot, and Apple.

4. Consider looking beyond your local animals in need. There are many national and international animal welfare groups out there – it’s all a matter of finding the one that suits your values best. Consider Heifer International, Oxfam, Best Friends Animal Society, or the ASPCA. Orvis has done a great job supporting a group close to my heart as a veterinarian, The Morris Animal Foundation, which supports animal health, including canine-cancer research.

If you have other animal-oriented giving ideas, I’d love to hear about them below.

There are many ways to help animals and people in need – hopefully these few suggestions can assist you during the holiday season. One thing I know about animal people- they have big hearts.

Happy Holidays,

Dr. Bo

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