Five ways to show your love for animals this Valentine's Day
These animal-centric options will let you show your affection for a significant other, family member or friend on Valentine's Day and help animals at the same time. We'd call that a win/win situation!
• Local group the Lu Parker Project is working to make sure every last dog at the L.A. Department of Animal Services' South L.A. shelter gets a chance to sleep on a comfortable pet bed rather than on cold, hard cement. The shelter has 140 concrete kennel runs, most of which house more than one dog at a time -- and there are nowhere near enough beds to go around. Many commercially available pet beds aren't well-suited to use in animal shelters because they aren't sufficiently durable or become soaked through when the kennel runs are hosed down during routine cleaning. So pet-bed company Kuranda is offering its raised, chew-proof and easy-to-clean beds at a discount through this program. What does it have to do with Valentine's Day? If you donate a bed (cost: $65) before Feb. 14, you'll receive a free bouquet of flowers and a Valentine's Day greeting card. Flowers and cards can be picked up Feb. 13 or Feb. 14 at one of two local locations: Sporteve in Culver City or Peet's Coffee & Tea on Main Street in Santa Monica.
• When you purchase flowers through Teleflora's ASPCA page, 20% of the cost will be donated to the animal protection organization. Prices start at $29.99 and go ... well, pretty darn high. Just make sure to check the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center page to determine which flowers are nontoxic to your pet, or be prepared to be vigilant about keeping the flowers away from your animals if you opt for something harmful if swallowed. (For instance, lilies can cause liver failure if ingested by cats, and some varieties are also toxic to dogs; daisies can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination and other symptoms in dogs and cats; and irises can cause vomiting, lethargy, diahhrea and excessive salivation in both dogs and cats.)
• Rescue Chocolate's handcrafted candy bars, chocolate hearts and truffles are all-vegan and kosher. Even better, the company donates 100% of its net profits to animal charities. A different charity benefits from Rescue Chocolate's generosity each month -- this month, it's Bay Area pet rescue group Furry Friends, which has saved more than 12,000 animals otherwise destined for euthanasia at municipal shelters in Northern California since 1998. Previous beneficiaries of Rescue Chocolate's generosity include Austin Pets Alive, United Animal Nations, Farm Sanctuary, Philadelphia PAWS, In Defense of Animals and the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti. Rescue Chocolate sells its products online and in retail stores in 14 states and the District of Columbia. (Here in Southern California, West Hollywood's Du-Vin Wine & Sprits, the Pasadena Humane Society and San Diego's All Vegan carry the treats, but it's a good idea to call ahead to make sure they're in stock.)
• Farm Sanctuary has a suggestion for an unorthodox Valentine's Day gift for animal lovers: sponsorship of a rescued farm animal! In addition to its work advocating for farm animal welfare, the organization operates two sanctuaries (one in New York state, one in California) that house cows, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, ducks, geese and chickens that have been saved from slaughter, abusive situations and other sorry circumstances. Animal lovers can "adopt" a farm animal by making a one-time holiday donation or a recurring monthly donation for its care. Monthly donations start at $10 per month for a chicken to $50 per month for a cow.
• When you send the Animal Rescue Site's free "Got Love?" e-card, the recipient will trigger the donation of a bowl of food to a needy animal just by opening it! It doesn't get much easier than that -- and you can send it to up to 20 people.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: Puppies gather at the front of their kennel at the South L.A. animal shelter in a 2007 photo. Credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times