Five years ago, Dorian Wagner, pet blogger and founder of Your Daily Cute, decided she wanted to find a way to help shelter pets during the season of giving. “I wanted to do something like Toys for Tots, but for shelter animals, and do it in a way that everyone in our online animal-loving community could help,” recalls Wagner.
The answer was "Santa Paws Drive," an annual virtual toy drive that allows anyone to donate cash or gifts to go to six designated animal shelters to brighten the holidays of homeless dogs and cats.
“By creating SantaPawsDrive.com, anyone from anywhere can easily go online to donate toys and treats to shelter animals all over the world!” says the Florida-based pet lover. This year’s goal is $1,000 for each shelter plus enough toys and treats for every animal (800 cats and 300 dogs in total). “Every dollar and every toy helps,” she points out. “No gift is too small. Every catnip mouse, every squeaky toy, every donation helps bring cheer and happiness to shelter animals who otherwise wouldn’t have any during the holidays.”
This year Santa Paws Drive will be helping six very special shelters:
Rikki’s Refuge: Located in Orange County, Virginia, this 367-acre sanctuary is home to more than 1,200 animals from over 20 different species ranging from cats and dogs to sheep and goats.
Good Mews: This Marietta, Georgia cage-free shelter takes in abused or abandoned cats as they await a forever home.
Union County Animal Control: This rural Cobden, Illinois shelter works to help bully breeds and does the non-stop work of searching for rescues and transports to help find homes.
Nowzad Dogs: Profiled here on pet360, Nowzad is the only official animal shelter in Afghanistan, helping to improve the life of local animals and assisting U.S. soldiers with the job of bringing home their pet.
Contra Costa Humane Society: This Pleasant Hill, California shelter never hesitates to accept special needs or less adoptable pets from other local shelters, including Pit Bulls, senior cats and more. They recently rescued a severely beaten one-year-old Pit Bull; he is now healed and happy and loves to give kisses!
Ruff Start Rescue: Located in Princeton, Minnesota, this shelter takes in over 600 animals a year and specializes in high-risk animals, rescuing animals from high kill facilities, rehabilitating the sick, loving the unsocialized pets and maintaining a spay/neuter program.
Wagner is also anticipating the joy that the toys and treats will bring to the animals and to shelter personnel. “We've gotten such a great response from all our past shelters! Both the animals and the volunteers love it, and the photos we get back of the dogs and cats with their toys make everything so worth it. Plus, the cash donations help them with whatever else they might need.”
In the past four years, the drive has raised over $45,000 in toys and donations, gifts that had special meaning to these homeless pets. “Chances are, our pets at home don't really need another toy or bed, but to the animals in shelters, something that simple can make all the difference to them. We wish they all had forever homes, but at least while they are waiting for their family to come along, we want them know that they are loved and get the presents they deserve!”
To play Santa and to join in the 2013 Santa Paws Drive, visit www.santapawsdrive.com. The last day for toy donations is December 13; the final day for cash donations is December 20. The drive will also be hosting a raffle starting the first week of December with gifts for pet lovers and pet items, with all proceeds going to this year’s shelters.
Photo courtesy Santa Paws Drive