Adopt from a reputable source and other holiday pet tips from spcaLA

Los Angeles, CA – Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) warns against purchasing puppies advertised online or in classified papers. Instead, adopt from spcaLA, a humane society, a county or city shelter, or an accredited 501c3 rescue organization.

Oftentimes, puppies advertised by “back-yard breeders” are underweight and sickly, and too young for adoption. “It is against the law to sell a puppy under 8 weeks of age,” says Madeline Bernstein, spcaLA President. “If you are meeting a guy in a parking lot to buy a puppy, chances are the puppy is under 8 weeks of age and will present medical issues. This combination can, and often does, result in unnecessary suffering, astronomical veterinary costs, or even worse – death.”

Rather than take that chance, adopt with an organization that is committed to the well-being of the animals. “As an adopter, you should be able to see where the animal is kept, and receive a record of medical care and age appropriate vaccinations,” said Bernstein.

New and old pet parents alike should safeguard their pets to ensure the holidays are merry and bright:

  • Holiday plants such as poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, and hibiscus are toxic to pets so keep them out of reach.
  • Be on the lookout for tiny decorations and tinsel that look very appetizing to pets, but can be lethal if ingested.
  • Use ribbon or yarn instead of hooks to hang ornaments instead of metal that can be harmful if chewed or swallowed.
  • Deck the halls with tape and cord covers. Pets can suffer burns and electrocution from chewing through electrical cords. Place cords out of sight, cover with tape, or use plastic tubing available at hardware stores to cover the cords.
  • Dogs and cats should wear a collar with I.D. tags at all times, in addition to being microchipped. Make sure information is current. This is important throughout the entire year, but especially during the holidays as there may be a greater risk of your pet escaping due to increased visitors.
  • Bells may ring and children may sing, but your pets may need a quiet place to retreat. During holiday parties, secure your pets in a separate room with favorite toys, a cozy pet bed, and soft music. Pets that have their own room will feel safer, less stressed and won’t be able to accidentally escape out the front door.
  • Be careful of candles as curious pets can tip them over or may be burned by the flame.
  • Never give your pets leftover bones from meals you are making. Cooked bones splinter and can be fatal to pets.
  • Turkey and gravy makes a festive feast for humans but not for pets. Over time, fatty foods such as gravy and turkey skin can cause your pet to develop pancreatitis which can be deadly.
  • Chocolate is a great treat, but is toxic to your pet. Instead get yummy treats just for them.
  • Teach your pet to “come when called.” This command is a fail-safe, should your dog get loose. spcaLA Animal Behavior & Training Department offers a Come When Called class, as well as other obedience classes.

Rather than purchase an animal as a surprise gift that the recipient may not be ready for, spcaLA encourages you to make a day out of visiting a pet adoption center together. That, along with a book about pet care will make a great gift and begin the journey of responsible pet ownership. If now is the right time to expand your family with a new pet, please adopt from spcaLA or your local shelter.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Ana Bustilloz at (323) 730-5300, x252, cell (323) 707-1271 or email

spcaLA is an independent, nonprofit animal welfare organization serving Southern California since 1877. There is no national SPCA, parent organization, or umbrella group that provides financial support to spcaLA. Donations run programs and services including Cruelty Investigation, Disaster Animal Response Team, Humane Education, and a variety of shelter services.