Operation Santa Paws

Giving the Gift of Love Back to Our Animal Friends

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
~Anatole France

Animals are important for so many of us.

Friends and companions for life, they give us the greatest gift of all—unconditional love.

By doing so, they considerably contribute to our happiness and our health.

What better time to honor our four-footed friends than during this holiday season that celebrates love?

Enter Operation Santa Paws

boneOperation Santa Paws is an event which benefits shelter and rescue dogs and cats.

Running from December 1st to December 17th, the goal is to encourage people to donate money, time, toys, or supplies to local shelters.

Operation Santa Paws was established by Justin Rudd in 2001. It was originally organized to support shelters in Long Beach California, but it has since expanded across the state and beyond.

Operation Santa Paws is part of the Haute (pronounced ‘Hot’) Dog organization, a network of dog owners, rescuers, and educators who hope to inspire a better understanding and appreciation of dogs, encourage responsible ownership, and offer practical solutions for adoption and rescue.

Other Dog-Friendly Holidays in December

boneInterestingly, Operation Santa Paws intersects with other animal support events: National Mutt Day and the International Day of Veterinary Medicine.

Created in 2005, National Mutt Day (also known as National Mixed Breed Dog Day) is the brainchild of Colleen Paige, a Celebrity Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Welfare Advocate.

Celebrated on July 31st and December 2nd, the goal of the event is to get at least 10,000 mixed breed dogs adopted.

This is an ambitious mission but much needed, given that an astounding 80 percent of dogs in shelters are mixed breeds.

The problem is that many people prefer to own pure breeds.


Studies in Europe and North America have shown that the average mixed breed dog may be less prone to certain genetic diseases and may have a longer lifespan, on average, as compared with purebred dogs.

Because of this, National Mutt Day was established to educate the public about the benefits of owning a mutt, including the fact that they tend to be healthier, better behaved, and live longer.

Another dog-friendly holiday in this same period is the International Day of Veterinary Medicine, which is celebrated on December 9th and was established to recognize this wonderful field of medicine that keeps our four-legged friends healthy and happy.

So How to Celebrate Operation Santa Paws?

Want to celebrate Operation Santa Paws?

Dr. Rosean Oliveira and Sweet Potato ChowderFor starters, how about gifting some supplies and toys, or donating your time or money to your local shelters or drives?

Here at UC Davis, we donate money to a drive at the School of Veterinary Medicine so they can give blankets and toys to pets raised by homeless people.

Or if you feel you are ready, you can also honor the cause by adopting one of these lovely animals who are so eager to find a home.

But please remember only to adopt a pet if you are able to look after your new four-footed friend for the long term, and also keep this in mind if you are planning to give an animal as a gift over the holidays.

And when your good deeds are done, curl up with your four-legged friend while enjoying a bowl of our super special, ‘love-filled’ recipe for Sweet Potato Chowder.

Happy Operation Santa Paws to all!