Humane Society of Missouri: ‘Tis The Season To Be Safety Minded

by Suzanne K. Gassner

While decking the halls this holiday season, keep Fido and Fluffy in mind. If you have a pet, it is comparable to having a perpetual two-year-old child around, so decorate with this in mind. Garland, ornaments, ribbon and wrappings are a tantalizing temptation to our furry friends and should be kept out of their reach. Twinkling lights and tinsel are new toys to our pets and a must to investigate. Chewing on electrical cords can be disastrous.

Holiday plants such as poinsettias, mistletoe, holly leaves, berries and Christmas roses are poisonous to our pets—chocolate, too! Rich foods and treats can cause digestive upset and the consumption of any bones from holiday meats can become lodged in your pet’s intestines, causing a blockage. (Don’t forget the twine used to hold turkeys and roasts together, the pop-up thermometer, foil or scraps. These are particularly tempting to animals and very dangerous. Dispose of these carefully, as our wild friends visiting your trash as unexpected holiday guests can’t resist the buffet you have provided!)
We might crave a peaceful holiday at home by the fireplace, but the reality is often quite different. Our holiday season is filled with shopping, visiting, chores and holiday commitments making our time even tighter than usual. Fido feels this and may be lonely as a result. Give your pet (and you!) a simple gift by carving some special time to be together.

A gift of a pet is the gift that keeps on giving, and giving, and giving long after the glow of the holidays. Did your 70-year-old Aunt Ethel really want a bouncing rottweiler-mix puppy? When the novelty of the new puppy or kitten wanes, shelters across the country are the sad recipients of many good intentions. Acquiring a new pet is a life-adjustment and a time commitment—for the life of the pet. A better idea may be to give a gift certificate from the Humane Society of Missouri. This certificate allows Aunt Ethel to visit the shelter at her leisure and choose the pet she is prepared to keep for a lifetime. She might just fall in love with a shy, older cat that wants nothing more than to cuddle on her lap.

How about decking the halls for our wild friends as well? Fruits, nuts, seeds and berries are a welcome treat for the birds and squirrels as they struggle to fend off the winter cold. Feeding the birds is a commitment as they quickly become dependent on you for their food source. But the investment is minor compared to the priceless hours of color and entertainment they will provide for you. So make a cup of tea, snuggle with your pet, watch the birds enjoy your treats and have a wonderful holiday season filled with many magical moments for you and your animal friends. Oh, and call Aunt Ethel.

Suzanne Gassner is the Director of Education for the Humane Society of Missouri. To learn more about education programs available to the community, visit at hsmo.org and click on ‘learn’.