Operation Santa Paws

Everyone knows that Christmas falls during the month of December, but few people realize that this month is also home to another observance that’s just as important. This observance is known as Operation Santa Paws, and its purpose is to encourage people to show their local animal shelters a little bit of love and to show abandoned and neglected pets a little bit of love, too.

Every year, almost 8 million pets enter shelters all across the U.S., and many of the shelters that house them are under great financial strain. That’s why everyone is encouraged to give to their shelter and help them stock up on the supplies they need to keep animals happy and healthy.

The History of Operation Santa Paws

Justin Rudd and the Haute Dog Organization—a growing network of dog owners, educators, rescuers, and supporters—founded it in 2001. Their mission was to encourage people to donate pet toys and treats to animal shelters. Since its creation, it has grown into a national event, and now people all across the U.S. are donating to their local shelters in observance of Operation Santa Paws.

Important Facts About Pets & Animal Shelters

We wanted to go over some facts about pets and animal shelters to help people realize the great stresses that animal shelters are under nowadays. With that said, below are some of the facts we’ve discovered while researching Operation Santa Paws. It’s our sincere hope that people find them useful.

  • Approximately 4 million dogs and 4 million cats enter animal shelters every year.
  • Every year, almost a million animal shelter animals are euthanized.
  • Approximately 4 million shelter animals are adopted every year.
  • Only about 800,000 of the animals who enter shelters are returned to their owners.
  • Shelter dogs are seven times more likely to be returned to their owners than cats.
  • It’s estimated that there are approximately 80 million dogs and 86 million cats owned in the U.S.
  • Approximately 1 out of 4 cats taken as pets are acquired as strays.
  • Only 23% of dogs acquired in the U.S. are from animal shelters.

Observing Operation Santa Paws

We highly recommend that everyone observe this month by donating to their local animal shelter. This donation can be food, pet toys, treats, or money. Just be sure if you’re giving food or pet treats that you check with the animal shelter first to find out what types of foods and treats they give the animals.

People can also adopt a pet during this month to add to their home. And people can use the hashtag #OperationSantaPaws to spread the word about this observance across social media.

When is it?
This year (2024)
December 1 Sunday
Next year (2025)
December 1 Monday
Last year (2023)
December 1 Friday