So You Think A Pet Is A Good Gift For Your Parents

**  We originally posted this last year but we’re putting it out there again because we want to make sure people know that we should never gift a living thing as a surprise to someone, no matter how much you think they would like it.  OK, maybe a plant, but NOT a pet.  

Pets are always giving to us. They give their love, their trust, their loyalty without reserve. At this time of year those qualities may make it seem like a pet would be the perfect surprise for a special person in your life. Here at the shelter we’ve already started fielding calls about giving pets for the holidays but surprisingly to us they’re not put the way we expected. We rarely get the, “I want to surprise my niece/nephew/boyfriend with a pet” calls here at the shelter. By and large people seem to understand that bringing an animal into a young family or relationship isn’t a good idea unless everyone is on board. No, at this time of year the calls we’re getting are more like this:

“My dad has been so lonely since mom died this past spring and I want to get him a dog to keep him company.”

“Mom fell and broke her hip and can’t leave the house much any more so I want to get her a cat to be with her.”

“My parents just retired. We had a great dog when I was a kid and I want to get them one now that they have lots of time.”

Yup. The calls we’re getting these days are largely from devoted, loving adult children concerned about their older parents. This is a particularly delicate conversation because it’s not just a holiday gift these people are asking for, it’s a chance to enrich the lives of their aging parents and give them something long term to have as a companion. It comes from a place of deep love and a desire to care for one of the closest and most important people in their world. Often the logic is that “It’s not the same as giving a kid a pet as a gift because mom/dad is older and has lots of time.” or, “I know it’s a good idea because we had a pet when we were kids and dad loved him!” Here’s the truth though, it’s NEVER a good idea to give someone a pet without their knowledge. NEVER!!!

Dad might still be grieving and not ready for a pet.

Mom might be terrified that the cat will get underfoot and cause her to fall again.

Maybe mom and dad have their own plans for retirement that don’t include a pet.

But let’s play devil’s advocate. Let’s say none of this applies to you. Let’s say you’re sure, SURE that a pet is the perfect gift for mom, dad, or uncle Bob. OK. Please do this:

Come to the shelter and get a gift certificate for the adoption fee for the animal you’re thinking about. Yes, we do that! Then give the certificate as the gift and use it to start a conversation with mom, dad, or uncle Bob about whether they would like to add an animal to their lives. If they do, great! They can come here and pick the pet that they make a connection with (it might not be the one you would have picked) but if they don’t they can donate the fee back to the shelter, sponsor an animal for adoption by someone else, or even buy a bunch of dog sweaters and calendars (we’re not picky about how they spend it).

For animal lovers a pet might seem like the best possible gift, and it might be. But only when everyone involved is part of the conversation and on board with the adoption and only when the pet owner has been able to meet and connect with the pet in person before the adoption.


What Do I Do About Feral Cats In My Neighborhood Now That It’s Getting Cold?

The onset of cold weather in New England conjures up images of hot chocolate by the fire and cozy curl-ups with our favorite furry family members by the fire.  For us at the shelter it’s also when we start getting phone calls that sound like the title above. Good-hearted people worrying about the “neighborhood cat” and wondering if they should try to trap him and bring him to the shelter before the snow starts.  If the cat is clearly an abandoned pet or a friendly stray we say of course and schedule an appointment.  If it is a free-roaming cat, that is, a cat whose owners let it go out, we encourage you to let it be -she knows her way home.  (PS: if you’re not sure how to tell the difference between a free roaming cat and a stray we did a handy blog post earlier this year about how to tell, you can read it here). But what about the cats that are clearly feral, have adapted to life in the wild, and both want and need to live outdoors.  What do we do about them?**

Can We Just Bring Them To The Shelter For Adoption?

The first thing we want to tell you is that with 50-100 Million feral cats in the US, according to Alley Cat Allies, a Washington, DC based nonprofit, you’re not alone in wondering what to do about feral cats.  Unfortunately, adoption isn’t a good option for feral adults or even older feral kittens.  Essentially, once a kitten reaches 5-6 month of age as a feral they will always be that way.  These cats are not socialized and will not make good house pets, their brains have already developed to permanently adapt to life out doors away from people. That means that even if you brought that cat to the shelter we couldn’t adopt it out to a family.  The people wouldn’t be happy and neither would the cat.  It would most likely hiss, scratch, bite, and dart out the door as soon as possible, ending up outside but without the advantage of familiar surroundings. So what can you do if you have a friendly-enough-but-not-really-a-pet type of personality feral cat in your neighborhood? Well, the good news is that cats are wonderful survivalists and great at adapting to weather and other challenges. They’re actually pretty good at surviving on their own.  If you’re committed though, all they really need is some passive assistance to help them through the worst of the winter.

outdoor animal shelter
The link will take you to a tutorial for this DIY cat shelter


Feral cats often rely on each other for heat and protection during the winter so winter shelters for feral cats can be a simple as a place for them to shelter from the worst of the wind and snow. If you want to make something specifically for them you can see a simple tutorial that the ASPCA offers here.

By and large though feral cats are adept at finding places to shelter for the winter.  Under porches and decks, in sheds or garages, or even under dumpsters.  It’s not a cozy warm house to be sure but ferals are good at staying warm and dry so if you see one and it doesn’t look like it’s in any trouble, it’s probably not.


Cats are excellent hunters and can catch everything from bugs and mice to chipmunks, birds, and a host of other animals.  With that being said, feral cats require more food and water in the winter because they are burning calories  to stay warm in addition to their regular energy output.  Many people choose to put out cat food and water in the winter but you should be aware of some caveats before you decide to go this route:

  1. If you feed them they will come.  And bring their friends. And not leave.
  2. If they get used to you feeding them they will rely on you for food instead of hunting.  Then, if you stop they will go hungry instead of hunting because they’re expecting you to come and take care of them.  You could actually cause them more harm in the long run.
  3. Putting out a bunch of high calorie food in the winter may attract non-cat animals like raccoons, squirrels, or even predators like coyotes and that might cause fights, disease, and other trouble for your ferals.
  4. If you feed the cats but don’t clean up afterwards the neighbors will get mad and understandably so, no one wants a big cat mess of dirty plates and scattered moldy food in the neighborhood.  That could make things bad for everyone, cats and humans.

If you do decide to feed your ferals though there is one big upside, feeding them creates a safe location that they will go to with some degree of predictability and that makes it easier to TNR – that it, Trap, Neuter, and Release.

ear tip
Ear tips communicate that the feral cat is vaccinated and sterile.


TNR is our ultimate goal for feral cats that cannot adapt to living in a home with a family. The concept is simple and effective, trap the cat with a box trap, bring the cat to a veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and have it’s ear notched (the universal sign that a feral cat has been neutered and vaccinated), and then return the cat to it’s cat colony outdoors.  The cat lives out the rest of it’s days without creating any more baby cats and with no new population the colony naturally dies out over a few years.

TNR not only controls the cat population without mass euthanasia but it reduces disease and improves the quality of life for the cats in the colony while addressing human concerns about the stray cat population.  If you have made the decision to care for a cat colony by putting out food or creating a shelter TNR is the next logical step to ensure that your efforts don’t go on forever, something both the cats and your human neighbors are sure to appreciate.

If you have a feral cat or even a cat colony visit our resources page for information about MA organizations that do TNR.

What To Do

In conclusion, if you observe a cat in your neighborhood and you’re worried about what to do as winter arrives:

  1. Determine whether it’s actually a stray or is rather a free-roaming cat or a pet that has gotten outside
  2. If the animal is hurt or injured call animal control immediately
  3. If the animal is feral and seems fine, it probably is. Don’t try to bring it to the shelter because we can’t adopt out feral cats. Instead decide how you want to do to support the animal through the winter and then reach out to a non-profit that does TNR for feral cats.


**  If you have found a hurt or injured cat please call your local animal control immediately.



A Message From Our President

As we continue to celebrate National Animal Shelter Appreciation week, we want to do a big shout-out to our volunteers and to our supporters (sometimes they are one-in-the-same)!  Since our beginnings back in 2009, we have had the support of dozens of volunteers and countless supporters … combined with our staff, these groups complete the three-legged-stool that provides the platform for the Animal Protection Center to be the valuable resource to help animals and people in our communities.

Each day, our volunteers do an endless array of tasks ensuring the Center is clean; dishes are washed, laundry is washed, and so many other routines that are all part of keeping the pets in our care safe, healthy, and loved – and that is just what goes on in the Center!  There is a small army of volunteers in the background organizing events that help raise funds and provide guidance for the Center – Board of Directors, Paws in the Park, Dogtoberfest, Yard Sales, Bake Sales, Book Sales and the Tails & Ties Gala are just a few. As a fellow volunteer, I can attest that we all believe in the Center and its mission.

And without our supporters from the community at large – both people and businesses – the APCSM would not have been able to build a firm foundation and remain a stable organization here to help.  The generosity and the commitment to the Center has been and continues to be outstanding – whether it is a donation of paper towels and blankets raised by a child at his/her birthday party, someone making a monetary contribution, family & friends participating in an event, or a local business leader committing to a yearly sponsorship… we know it was done with love and is greatly appreciated.

So to our volunteers and fellow community members, thank you for the hard work, support and helping our organization help the animals and pets in our area.  – Chuck G (Volunteer, Board of Director President)

25532055_10208311546786099_8686737042129520238_oIn addition to being our board president Chuck Givonetti and his partner Renato are proud parents to APCSM Alumni dog Dory and long time locals. You can meet them at most APCSM events. 


Home For The Holidays??

Donors are stepping up to pay adoption fees for our harder-to-adopt pets!  See them below!

It’s a little early for snow here at the Animal Protection Center but we are experiencing the best kind of snowball effect, donors are stepping up to pay the adoption fees for our harder to adopt animals.  Just this weekend 2 generous donors paid the adoption fees for Cupid and Lester, two dogs currently available.  Then on Tuesday an anony-mouse donor paid the adoption fees for all cats over 10 years old currently in residence.  Our hope is that having these animals be “free to good families”  will help these wonderful animals go home for the holidays!  If you would like to join this momentum to paw-it-forward you can sponsor an animal’s adoption fee (you can see the fees here) by donating and listing your intention in the notes.  Just choose an available animal.

STEP 1: Make your PayPal donation and let it take you to the “Special Instructions To Seller” page (This will be before you confirm your donation).


STEP 2: Add your note about who you want to sponsor.




Here’s a list of the animals who are currently being sponsored, click on their names to be linked to their profile!



























Holiday Photos With Santa On Dec 1!!

Why spend $30 on a mall Santa photo when for just a little more your whole family can have a holiday experience with the APCSM! Bring your whole family – furries too! – for cookies and milk and a mini portrait session with our professional photographer Ashley. You’ll get a digital copy in about a week and print ones by December 15.

The photos are taken on a first come-first served basis however we are asking families to pre-register.  No money will be collected at pre-registration but we will collect your mailing address for the photos and information to help Santa interact with your dogs and children.

Event Details:

Date: Saturday, December 1, 2018

Time: 10am-4pm

Location: APCSM, 1300 West Elm Ext., Brockton, MA 02301 (508-586-2053)

Cost: $30 (includes 1 final photo with additional poses/copies available for purchase)