homes for the holidays pet adoption and christmas

Homes for the Holidays: Exploring The Relationship Between Pet Adoption and Christmas

Written by Steph McCulloch


Explore unique adoption stories of love, belonging and joy this Christmas and join us on a poignant journey that highlights the warmth, hope, and transformative power of embracing the holiday season with open hearts and open arms.
a hand resting against a dogs face


In the 1980s, Dogs Trust coined the phrase, “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. To this day, it remains synonymous with their charity work and a commitment to the welfare of dogs. It has also expanded into the wider collective consciousness of general pet ownership encouraging people to carefully evaluate the decision to bring a pet into their lives.

At Waggel, this is something we firmly believe in. Impulsively purchasing a pet without taking the time to research or factor in lifestyle requirements can result in heartbreak, neglect, and the ultimate surrender of a puppy or kitten to a shelter already running at full capacity.

basket of kittens in orange blanket

Why adopt?

Although we’ve touched on the benefits of adopting pets in previous articles, Christmas is a time of year that forces us to reflect not only on our personal choices but our beliefs and morals.

The UK has a troubling pet overpopulation problem, with thousands of healthy, loving animals euthanised each year due to lack of space and resources. If you’re looking for a new addition this Christmas,​ adopting a cat or dog from an animal shelter or rescue is the most ethical way to welcome a new addition into your home. By adopting from a shelter, you’re not only providing a home to a pet in need but essentially saving a life.

At Christmas, more pets are surrendered to shelters due to issues such as housing changes and financial hardship though it’s important when discussing these reasons to avoid placing the blame entirely on owners. Unavoidable and unpredictable circumstances can fall upon any of us at any given time, even those who cherish their pets deeply leaving them with no choice but to surrender.

It is then vital that we extend the compassion we feel for animals to owners facing difficult circumstances and who’ve had to make a heartbreaking decision. Passing judgement serves no additional purpose and doesn’t contribute effectively to rehoming efforts.

Reducing the number of homeless pets through adoption helps to alleviate pressure and burden on animal welfare organisations. When you adopt rather than support irresponsible and unrecognised breeders, it helps decrease market demand and financial incentives for indiscriminate breeding, something that has majorly increased since the COVID-19 pandemic - this is key to tackling pet overpopulation in the long term.

a dog wearing an 'adopt me' bandana

In turn, the cost of adoption is significantly lower than buying a cat or dog. Adoption fees, which help cover shelter expenses, are priced at around £50-£200, whereas breeders often charge anywhere from £500 to over £2,000. The adoption fee usually includes initial vaccinations, neutering, microchipping and vet examination - expenses that quickly add up when purchasing a pet.

Reputable shelters thoroughly health check, vet and behaviour test all of their adoptable animals. This helps ensure they match you with the right pet for your home, lifestyle and experience level. Many shelter pets are there through no fault of their own and despite their challenging start to life, make wonderfully loving companions, as we’ll touch upon below.

The adoption process also requires more serious consideration, which reduces impulsive pet purchases at a time of year when we can often fall into the cycle of excessively buying. This helps to confirm you are truly ready for the long-term commitment and expenses associated with responsible pet ownership.

There are many questions to ask yourself and many things to consider before embarking on the pet ownership journey. Considering where your pet will stay when you work/go on holiday, how you will travel with them, how they will fit into your lifestyle, and if they get on with other animals is a huge part of the equation. Once you’re ready to take the plunge, adoption can be a heartwarming experience for all involved.

terrier and german shepherd standing next to one another

Our experiences

At Waggel, we practise what we preach. Many of our team members made the decision to adopt, foster, and rehome and speak proudly about the journeys they’ve been through with their pets. One thing they all have in common? How rewarding the choice to adopt can be.

From stories of inseparable bonds formed through adoption to the joy of seeing healthy, happy animals rehomed after illness and injury, our caring team have seen the direct effect of animal rescue and adoption. Speaking to staff across the entire Waggel team, we take a closer look at first-hand, heart-warming experiences from team members who’ve provided rescue animals loving and forever homes.

Hannah Simpson, Head of Delivery - “Adopting for me is looking at pet ownership differently. Typically, we look at the 'perfect breed' with the perfect coat type, colour, temperament, size and so on but adopting a pet changes that completely. Instead, you look at your pet as perfect just the way they are, those 'imperfections' that potentially led them to be abandoned are actually the qualities that warm up your heart. My dog Disco is definitely funny-looking, and her behaviour is a learning process for us both to say the least but she's perfect to me.”

owner holding dogs head with both hands

Emma Kenfield, Claims Chaser - “Having rescued both of my pets myself, you will quickly learn that at the end of the day, all your furry friends really want is a forever home with a warm and cosy bed - it means the world to them. These gentle animals have so much life to live and so much love to give. I’ve also come to realise that adopting gives you a daily reminder of the power of love. It shows that resilience has no bounds, and it is the best feeling to cherish every moment with a companion you can share an incredible bond with. In the end, all they really ask for is to be loved, and knowing you can provide that is extremely rewarding. To anyone thinking about rescuing, I would simply say; if you think you can open your heart and your home and give a rescue a chance, do it. You may just meet your new best friend.”

Kirsty Clarke, Customer Champion - “You will seldom find a veterinary nurse who doesn’t have at least one abandoned and broken animal in their home. Unwanted, often ill-treated animals are far too common. Some nurses are extremely good at saying no to these cases, some are particularly affected by certain cases and then there are nurses (like me) who fail epically and consequently have houses full, of three-legged cats, one-eyed dogs and ancient rabbits that can only turn to the left! My pets are the reason I can’t stretch out in bed and the reason I can’t sit on the sofa alone. They are a choice I will never regret.”

Where to adopt

The holiday season is one of the hardest times of the year for animal shelters. Spaces fill up, resources run low, but the needs of animals remain. Something as simple as volunteering, donating supplies, or supporting adoption events can immensely improve these animals' quality of life as they await forever homes.

If you’re interested in adoption, donating, or simply finding out more information on how you can help support animals, shelter staff, and owners in need this Christmas and beyond we’ve included some resources below.

  • RSPCA - The RSPCA is one of the largest rescue organisations in the UK with adoption centres across England and Wales. They take in thousands of cats and dogs every year that are looking for caring families and work with you and your lifestyle choices to help find a pet that suits your needs.

  • Dogs Trust - Dogs Trust are a major UK dog welfare charity focused on rescuing and rehoming stray or abandoned dogs. They have 20 rehoming centres located in both England and Scotland and care for over 15,000 dogs every year.

  • Cats Protection - Cats Protection, formerly the Cats Protection League, is a UK-based charity dedicated to rescuing and rehoming stray, unwanted or homeless cats and educating people about cats and cat welfare. They have over 250 volunteer-run branches across the UK and find homes for over 46,000 cats each year.

  • Battersea Cats and Dogs Home - Every animal arriving at Battersea is given an abundance of love and attention, not to mention a tailored care plan and any medical treatment needed. Once they're ready to find a new home, staff use the knowledge they’ve built up by spending time with them to expertly match each animal to the owner that best suits their individual character.

cat in a cardboard box

As you gather with loved ones this season or search for meaningful ways to reflect the holiday spirit of compassion and renewal, consider including shelter support in your festivities. Gift donations to local shelters, donate pet food at supermarkets or redirect gift funding to a local rescue programme. Together, even the tiniest of gestures can make the season bright for those still waiting for their second chance.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

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