'Whiskers in Wonderland' Finds Pets a Home for the Holidays
Annual event encourages adoption as the option this season.
Hundreds of whiskered animals turned out at the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals' annual pet adoption event, “Whiskers in Wonderland,” in downtown Manhattan this past weekend, and more than 50 of them went home with new families.
There's a reason why the Mayor's Alliance – a coalition of more than 150 rescue groups – chooses to put on Whiskers in Wonderland, the largest pet adoption event in the city, right before the holidays, according to Steve Gruber, director of communications.
“For some, the holidays are an excellent time to adopt – you can have time off from work or school and have lots of time to spend with a dog or cat or other pet that you have recently brought home,” he explained to Zootoo.
But expanding your family to welcome a pet during this time of the year comes with some conditions and might not be for everyone, Gruber and other animal welfare and rescue workers caution.
All of the parties and commotion that come with the holidays and New Year celebrations might make for a hectic environment that is ultimately “scary” for a new pet getting used to its surroundings, Gruber says.
And it's important to not get caught up in the holiday frenzy and adopt a pet on a whim.
“It's not just about going home for the holidays and then back to the shelter,” he said. “It's about going home for good.”
Almost always, giving a pet as a gift is not a good idea, Gruber says – unless you are certain that the person you are giving the pet to is already completely on board with the idea and ready to take on the long-term responsibilities that come with pet ownership.
All in all, pet adoption around the holidays can be a bit of a dicey issue. While some rescue organizations and shelters try to ward off half-hearted and impulsive adoptions by closing up shop entirely this time of the year, other groups embrace the spirit of giving and cheer.
Iams Home 4 the Holidays – a national program that partners with different rescue groups and shelters – adopted out 1,125,667 pets last year during the holiday season. This year, it set the goal of finding 1.5 million pet orphans permanent homes.
Therea Labianca says that the Brooklyn-based Sean Casey Animal Rescue, specializing in exotic rescued animals, always tries to ensure that people are very serious about and committed to adopting before they hand over an animal – but that returns still occur.
During the holiday season, they intensify the routine questioning of potential adopters, Labianca explained to Zootoo. She was at Whiskers in Wonderland with a menagerie of exotic animals available for adoption, including a rat and several corn snakes. Over the weekend, they also adopted out four dogs.
“We basically ask people to see if they have been thinking about this for a long time and to see if they have really done their research,” she said. “We discuss different responsibilities that come with having a pet and that come with having an exotic pet, if that is the case. We just want to make sure they are ready and this isn't a spur of the moment decision.”
One Manhattan couple who attended Whiskers in Wonderland said they had been thinking about adopting a small to medium sized dog for a long time. They focused their searching efforts online – spending a lot of time on sites like Petfinder.com – but said that they ultimately decided to come down to Whiskers to meet dogs in person and get a real sense of their personalities, which can be difficult to do by just searching through online profiles.
They wound up going home with a bouncy Collie-Pointer mix that Sean Casey Animal Rescue had brought to the event.
Some of the Sean Casey animals – dogs and cats – showed themselves off in a van parked outside the event. People filtered in and out of the van, which also attracted passerby off the street.
Inside, a handful of rescued dogs made their debut on a short ret carpet during a pet fashion show. And a group of adoptable rabbits, there with the group Rabbit, Rescue and Rehab, patiently waited for the chance of a new home to come their way.
“We've had interest but no adoptions this weekend,” said Vivian Barna, a volunteer with Rabbit, Rescue and Rehab. “Rabbits are great pets, but there's a lot that comes with having one that people have to know about.”
Barna, like the rest of the rescue volunteers and workers at Whiskers, said she was on high alert at the event – both for great potential adopters, and for people who she knew would be serious about having a rabbit long after the hoopla of the holidays had passed.
Have you heard of holiday adoption events in your area? What do you think of the Whiskers in Wonderland event? Tell us below!
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