Editor's Note: With Santa's helpers caught up in the whirlwind of the countdown to Christmas, the Empire-Tribune set out on a quest to find gifts that bring to life the idea that when it comes to the joyous celebration, it truly is better to give than to receive. As you search high and low for that perfect gift, consider donations to any of the many service organizations in Erath County that work year-round to promote a caring and cared for community.   

Ten animals sheltered.

If you are looking for the perfect gift for the animal lovers on your holiday shopping list, forgo the tinsel-trimmed sweater you've picked out for Aunt Bessie's prized pooch and the gourmet doggie treats you ship off to Fido every year. Instead, opt for a gift that will make a difference in the lives of animals across the county.

The Erath County Humane Society (ECHS) is just one of the many area non-profit agencies that will spread good will into the New Year by providing food and shelter for abandoned animals.

Donate

According to ECHS Director Judy Hallmark, the shelter, which came to life in the mid-1970s, is always in need of assistance from Santa's helpers.

"It's the things we use every day that are needed the most. There is never enough bleach - we clean the entire shelter with bleach two or three times a day," Hallmark said, adding that other supplies such as kitty litter are also needed. "A lot of people believe the Humane Society gets a lot of funding, but we get very little. That is why donations and community contributions are so important."

Believe it or not, a little bit goes a long way.

"Even $5 goes a long way," Hallmark said, adding that monetary donations are "always accepted and greatly appreciated."

Another way to help is by making a commitment to donate to the shelter on a regular basis - monthly or quarterly - to ensure your contributions outlive the holiday season.

Help prevent an animal upsurge

As little Jane and Johnny write letters to Santa detailing their holiday wants, Hallmark warns that one of the holiday's No. 1 requests - a new pet - often results in an upsurge at the shelter after the New Year.

She said while there are animals up for adoption that would make a perfect present, the sparkle in Jane's eyes as she unwraps her furry friend is not the only thing to expect when bringing an animal into your home. If Jane is not prepared to take care of her new friend, the animal could quickly end up back at the shelter.

"When families choose to adopt an animal, especially puppies, it is really important for them to think about the decision they are making," Hallmark said, adding that many people make the mistake of choosing an inappropriate breed or getting a pet for a child who is not prepared to care for it. "Choosing the perfect pet should be a decision that lasts the animal's lifetime. We hate to see animals that are adopted by a loving family returned due to poor planning. If you are not certain about the decision, it is best to forgo the new pet."

For those looking for a gift for friends or family members with animals in their lives, consider a gift that will prevent an increase in the number of unwanted animals.

"Most people want to have their dogs and cats spayed or neutered, but so many can't afford the expense," Hallmark said. "That is a gift that can benefit us all." 

The Erath County Humane Society is located at 891 East Road in Stephenville. For more information, call Hallmark at 254-965-3247.