Animal Charities Christmas Donation · The Wildest

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The Greatest Gift You Can Give? Help An Animal in Need

The charities and shelters that need your help this Christmas

by Ro Elfberg
14 December 2023
Woman from Battersea Rescue petting white and brown dog outside
Photo Courtesy of @battersea

The slogan ‘A dog is for life not just for Christmas’ first appeared in the collective consciousness in 1978 when the Dogs Trust (known then as the National Canine Defence League) launched its campaign to highlight the growing needs of dogs across the UK. Forty-five years on, the iconic slogan still resonates and rings true. And yet, despite the warnings from animal charities, a growing number of people are still giving dogs and cats as Christmas presents. As a result, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home reported an uptick in animals being brought in this year during the spring and summer, which they believe could be linked to pets that were gifted at Christmas time last year.

With the cost of living rising, many families find themselves unable to keep up the long-term costs of pet ownership as time goes on. A spokesperson for The Celia Hammond Animal Trust said “people are bringing cats in here saying, ‘I can’t afford to feed them any more’.” And so, while we hope that we shouldn’t need to remind responsible pet owners to think twice before embarking on the commitment of adopting a pet, the more reminders the better.

If the thought of dogs and cats being surrendered to shelters and animal rescue centres makes you feel emotional, then instead of gifting a pet this Christmas, consider gifting a donation to an animal charity, either for yourself or on behalf of a friend, a loved one, or your pet. Charity starts at home, and often smaller local shelters and rescue centres are the most in need of funds to look after their animals, so check their websites first – they’ll be glad of the donations. Here, a round-up of national charities you can donate to.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

Battersea is renowned for its rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming; and with an average of 240 dogs and 145 cats across all three centres at any one time, that’s a lot of mouths to feed, toys to buy and vet care to provide. A perfect gift for any pet lover (including you), Battersea offers the option to sponsor a dog kennel, sponsor a cat cabin, buy a gift for their animals, make or donate goods, and more. Can you think of anything cuter than your pup gifting a toy to a dog in need?

The Blue Cross

The Blue Cross – a charity that has been helping sick, injured, abandoned and homeless pets since 1897 – states that in 2023, the cost for them to rescue and rehome a dog is 37% higher than in 2021, and the cost for providing vaccinations for dogs has more than doubled since 2021. Meanwhile, in the first half of the year, they saw a 55% increase in the number of pets given up due to financial reasons than during the same period in 2022 – all of which makes for depressing reading. Donate to their Christmas appeal here, and you could be saving an animal’s life.

Cats Protection

This charity does what it says on the tin, and any donations made this Christmas will go directly towards helping to foster, rehome, treat and house cats and kittens. They also offer a service called Lifeline, which is cat fostering that provides a safe temporary home for cats whose families are fleeing domestic abuse – and you can donate directly to this cause. You can also make one-off donations to the charity or set-up a direct debit in a few simple steps online.


The world’s oldest and largest animal welfare charity, the RSPCA focuses on rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming or releasing animals across England and Wales. Based on incidents of neglect and abandonment reported to the RSPCA animal rescue line between January and July 2021–2023, the RSPCA unfortunately shares that animal neglect and abandonment are at a three-year high. Support your local branch this Christmas and rest assured that your money will benefit the entire animal community.

The Dogs Trust

To support the originators of that famous slogan, you can purchase and gift dog-themed cards, crackers, gift wrap, decorations, advents and more from the Dogs Trust. You can also donate in memory to honour a special dog or person with your gift. Last year, the Dogs Trust says that donations helped provide care for 12,500 dogs without homes; rehome 9,700 dogs (including 451 long-term residents); care for their 1,700th illegally imported puppy; and support 14,600 dogs through their training school – if that isn’t an incentive to donate then I don’t know what is.

Of course, these are just a small selection of the charities, shelters and rescue centres that need your help this Christmas and beyond – so find one that resonates with you and give back this season. Your pet will thank you for it.

Ro Elfberg

Ro is The Wildest’s Senior Editor. She has previously written and copy-edited for British Vogue, Glamour and DICE. When she’s not being manipulated into dishing out Dreamies to Kobe the cat, she spends her free time trying to convince her snake, Butters, to wear a tiny hat.

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