Bark and Purrtect

Animal Welfare, Rescue and Advocacy

Bark and Purrtect
Finding Homeless Pets a Home for the Holidays…and Beyond

By: Paris Permenter & John Bigley

In last week’s column, we discussed the adoption gift certificates that many shelters offer as a way to encourage families to postpone adoption day until the hustle and bustle of the holidays is done.  Printable certificates, when paired with a pet toy, book, or supplies, make a great holiday present for a future pet parent.

But the animal welfare world also knows that, while the holidays might not be the best time for most people to add a furry family member to their household, many families will plan on purchasing a pet, often at a pet store or from a backyard breeder, as a gift this season. In 1999, animal advocate Mike Arms decided to match that consumer drive with a pet adoption drive launched at San Diego County’s Helen Woodward Animal Center and encompassing 14 area shelters. The result was the Iams Home 4 the Holidays adoption drive with 2,563 orphaned pets each finding a new home that inaugural year.

Today the annual event has grown into one of the world’s most successful pet adoption campaigns, spanning the globe with nearly 4,000 participating animal organizations across the US as well as in 23 other countries including Australia, Chile, India, Iran, Lebanon, Qatar, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and more. 

Through the years, Iams Home 4 the Holidays (or IH4TH) has garnered celebrity attention as well. Luminaries Diane Keaton, Felicity Huffman, Hilary Swank, and others have lent their voices, bringing awareness to the adoption drive that seeks to find forever homes for cats, dogs, and all kinds of animals during the three-month drive that concludes shortly after New Year’s Day.

So far, over 650,000 animals have already found a home in this 14th year of Iams Home 4 The Holidays with nearly 350,000 dogs, over 290,000 cats, and nearly 14,000 other animals finding forever homes during the first nine weeks of the drive—with the busiest weeks yet to come. Last year’s event found homes for over 1.25 million animals.

These animals all join the over seven million homeless pets that have been adopted since the campaign began. The result, says Arms, is that the campaign “took the biggest bite out of the puppy mills they have ever felt.”

For a list of shelters and rescue organizations participating in this year’s Iams Home 4 the Holidays, visit


Photo courtesy Iams Home 4 the Holidays is North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption web service. We help homeless pets at more than 13,600 animal shelters and rescues connect with the millions of potential adopters visit our website each month. To date, we’ve facilitated hundreds of thousands of lasting connections between great people and loving animals.

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