Your cruelty-free holiday guide

FOUR PAWS shares how to have an animal-friendly holiday with these simple steps


December 18, 2018.  Do you love animals? Then make your holiday the most animal-friendly celebration it can be! Read through our list to see how you can go cruelty-free in several different ways!

First and foremost, adopt; don’t shop. Animals are not the best gift. Here is why.  

If you are thinking about a fuzzy friend for a loved-one, think again. All too often, animals given as presents are abandoned after the holidays, ending up in animal shelters. In fact, over two million perfectly healthy cats and dogs are euthanized every year in the United States because they are not adopted. Choosing to adopt can save a life and can help you feel rewarded all year long and for years to come!

When adopting, stay away from buying animals online or in pet stores especially around the holidays. Just last week, the CDC emphasized that in the months ahead of the holidays, the number of dogs being imported into the United States increases by 30%. Many other dogs are not allowed into the US because they came from unscrupulous sellers who tried to avoid proper regulations.

Looking for a specific breed of dog or cat? We got you covered! There are thousands of rescues across the country that offer adoptions. These rescues usually deal with specific breeds. It may be as simple as an internet search in, where you can put in your breed preference and your location to find rescue groups near you (example: Type into a search engine “Labrador retriever rescue in Boston, MA”).

Whether this pet may be for you or it is a gift, please consider if you or this person can and will provide the following: a safe environment for the animal with adequate access to the outside and exercise; enough time for this pet; financial stability to maintain a veterinarian schedule for vaccines and preventative medications.

These warnings are not just for our furry friends, but scaly, slithering and shelled friends too. Buying that gold fish, turtle, snake or lizard may sound like a good idea, but these exotic animals require a great deal of expert care. Always do your research before you purchase a pet to better protect the animal and yourselves.

By taking these steps, you are helping cut out the unnecessary breeding of dogs, and the cruelty, neglect and abuse that often are synonymous with the “puppy trade”.

When doing your holiday gift shopping, remember to check the labels. Real fur is still commonly used and not always labelled correctly. When buying cosmetics and other household products, read the labels carefully to ensure that the products and ingredients used were not tested on animals. The Leaping Bunny Logo is the only internationally recognized symbol guaranteeing consumers that no new animal tests were used in the development of any product displaying it.

Decade after decade, fur has remained fashionable. Even more sickening, two main sources of fur these days come from deplorable European and Chinese fur farms, or from cruel trapping practices that are carried out across the world – including North America!

Overall, it is estimated that over 100 million animals are killed by the fur industry every year. Foxes and minks suffer on fur farms in tiny cages, other species die a cruel death by traps. Processing fur into fur fashion requires high quantities of hazardous chemicals and high energy consumption.

While, checking the label, watch out for feathers and down. Only buy products, such as winter jackets, duvets, comforters, pillows, and pillow-top mattresses, from companies and suppliers that guarantee full supply chain traceability standards for their down products.  Better yet, purchase clothing and bedding that use alternative filling materials to best ensure that geese and ducks are spared of the cruel practices of live feather plucking and force-feeding.

Need help on where to shop? Use the Fur Free Retailer guide!

The Fur Free Retailer Program is a program designed by the Fur Free Alliance, a global coalition of which FOUR PAWS is a member which has already been signed by 955 retailers worldwide well-known brands as members, such as H&M, Zara, Vero Moda, American Apparel. Most recently, Chanel also

This list recognizes fashion chains and brands that have committed, in writing, to stop selling any products that use real animal fur.

Thomas Pietsch, wildlife expert at FOUR PAWS explained that “Chanel’s announcement shows that ethical consumption and animal welfare have also gained in importance for luxury fashion labels. Instead of real fur or exotic skins, today’s consumers want sustainability and innovation. We are confident that this forward-thinking decision by Chanel will be imitated by other leading high fashion companies”.

By shopping at these stores and supporting these retailers, you know you are supporting leaders in the fight against the use of real fur.  A list of all the companies participating in the “Fur Free Retailer” program is available at

Make holiday celebrations meat-free! Or try!

Another small step for you but large step for the animals is simply making more vegetarian dishes! No matter where you are, you can take small steps towards the right direction by swapping your usual dietary preferences with more compassionate food choices. No idea how? Fret not! Sign up for our nutrition newsletter to get tips and helpful information about animal-friendly food options.

Need last minute ideas for animal lovers: How about donating to an animal welfare organization in someone’s honor! Your gift can directly help rescue and support animals in need! 

If you are looking for a meaningful, lasting gift for an animal lover consider supporting FOUR PAWS. With just even a small gift, you can help provide care for any one of our sanctuary animals, including bears and big cats, stray dogs and cats, baby orangutans – and more – all in need of help. You’re help truly makes a difference! Donate here. 

Best of luck with YOUR Cruelty-Free holiday season!

The climbing lessons for the forest students started last week. For the first time Gonda, Tegar, Kartini and Gerhana climbed up to the treetops together with their expertly-paitred surrogate mothers. All four orangutan babies were willing to learn and be curious while noticing their companions could now keep up with them, even vertically.

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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