Twelve Strays of Christmas helps match pets to new homes

Carolyn Drake
Published on December 11, 2015

Jennifer Harkness, development co-ordinator with the P.E.I. Humane Society, shares a relaxing moment with Dale, a 12-pound, four-year-old-male, who is one of this year’s featured pets in The Guardian’s annual 12 Strays of Christmas feature.

©Heather Taweel/The Guardian

Jennifer Harkness is thrilled every time an animal leaves the P.E.I. Humane Society, but she gets an extra warm glow during the Christmas season.

So she’s happy the society and The Guardian are joining forces once again for the 12 Strays of Christmas, a tradition that sees 12 animals get the gift of a forever home every December.

“It’s wonderful, especially if there has been an animal in-house that has a hard time getting adopted,” says the P.E.I. Humane Society’s development co-ordinator.

“They have sometimes been here for a long time so seeing someone adopt them is probably the most important thing that we do here .... It is the most rewarding, and that’s what we’re working for.

Kicking off today the 12 Strays of Christmas will continue on selected days until Dec. 31.

Running since the late 1990s, the program features a picture of the pet, profile information and a healthy pet tip for the holidays.

A great success with more than 200 animals placed in homes, this year, a puppy, a senior dog, a number of rabbits, one or two guinea pigs, cats and a couple of kittens are among the adoptees.

Prospective pet parents are welcome to come in, meet the pet and make sure it is a good fit for their family.

The next step is an adoption form, reviewed by an adoption counsellor, with information on a wide range of topics, such as family members, their activity level and lifestyle and the environment they live in.

Harkness says the positive feedback is ongoing with happy adoption stories from past 12 Strays of Christmas animals coming in - anywhere from six months to six years down the road.

Janet Barry adopted Laura (now Miss) in December 2009 after reading about her in The Guardian.

She had been considering adopting an orange cat like her senior female that had passed away a few months earlier.

However, the photo of Laura, a grey tabby, featured a bio that grabbed her attention.

“It stated that Laura was extremely curious and needed to know what was going on around her at all times. I thought she might be an interesting character, and went to the shelter to see her,” Barry says in an email.

“She had lived at the shelter for three months, so I knew she needed a home. To this day, she remains curious and wants to know what is always going on, even if it frightens her a bit, like the vacuum. Then she carefully watches from a safe distance.”

Wayne Thibodeau, managing editor for The Guardian and regional editor for TC Media in P.E.I., is pleased the newspaper can once again play the part of matchmaker between Islanders looking for a new family member and pets that call the shelter home.

“The P.E.I. Humane Society does such wonderful work,” said Thibodeau.

“But it still breaks my heart every time I go into the shelter and see those adorable animals without a place to call home. If we can play even a small part in connecting these animals with a new home, I’m happy to make that happen.”

It really is a rewarding project, agrees Harkness.

“I think this is the season for giving, and a lot of people think about giving. They’re also thinking of opening their hearts and how their families can change by bringing a pet into their home.”