A volunteer with a homeless kitten at Dallas Animal Services. Photo by Sylvia Elzafon.

EVERY YEAR, APPROXIMATELY FOUR MILLION HOMELESS ANIMALS are killed in shelters around the country. Millions languish in cages, often for years. The problem is staggering, yet one with a tangible and clear solution. If even a fraction of the human population in the United States opened their homes to just one rescued animal; if we all spayed and neutered our pets; and rejected the notion of buying animals from pet stores or breeders, effectively cutting off support to puppy mills — the practice of putting adoptable animals to sleep would become obsolete. What better time to begin the domino effect of compassion than right now, today? During a season when we partake in the tradition of gift-giving and gather with our loved ones, why not give an animal in need the ultimate gift – a loving home and a family? The expression may be a cliché, but in this instance it truly would be “the gift that keeps on giving.” Anyone who has rescued an animal will attest to a love and gratitude unmatched. It is life-transforming and life-affirming. Shelters across the country are holding adoptions with reduced adoption fees. We’ve highlighted a few in major cities, but be sure to check in with shelters in your area.

•DALLAS, TX

Dallas Animal Services will remain open with regular hours Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve (and closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). All adoption fees are only $25 every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in December, and the animals are spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Their main location is open until 6.30pm, and its sister adoption location at PetSmart Adoption Center is open until 8 pm. You can view their adoptable pets here, or best yet just show up in person and let your heart guide you to your new friend. Keep up to date on their latest announcements on their Facebook page. Main location: 1818 N. Westmoreland Road Dallas, Texas 75212 phone: 214-670-8246 | PetSmart: 16821 N Coit Road, Dallas, TX 75248 phone: 972-381-1588

•NEW YORK CITY•

Animal Care and Control is the big city shelter, required by law to accept all animals. Although the shelter has a caring staff, it is underfunded and overcrowded. It’s not a no-kill shelter, which means when they run out of space and adoption is not secured, animals are put down. This is the tragic result of the current homeless pet crisis. But it can be remedied simply by welcoming an animal into your home. The shelter will remain open throughout the holiday season with its regular adoption hours of 12-7pm. They are offering reduced adoption fees through December 31st. Cats: $20; dogs: $40; puppies & kittens: $75; and rabbits: $35. All adoptions include spay/neuter, vaccinations, a pre-registered microchip, an identification tag, a collar, and a certificate for a free initial exam at a participating vet. Adoptable pets can be searched for here. You can also foster an animal from AC&C, as you can with any shelter. Primary location is in Manhattan at 326 East 110th Street. phone: 212-788-4000. Other locations: in Brooklyn at 2336 Linden Boulevard | and Staten Island at 3139 Veterans Road West.

North Shore Animal League  is a no-kill shelter that does many of its recuses from kill shelters. They will be open both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Adoptable pets can be viewed here. And follow them on Facebook for latest news. Located at 25 Davis Avenue, Port Washington, NY 11050 phone: 516-883-7575  

There are many other wonderful shelters in NYC including Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Animal Haven, Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue and more — all of them rescue animals from high-kill shelters and situations of neglect.

A pup who finally found a loving home. Photo by Sylvia Elzafon.

•LOS ANGELES, CA•

Los Angeles Animal Services has six locations around the city, including their North Central Shelter, which has an active Facebook feed, with daily listings of animals in need of adoption. This is a kill shelter, so the urgency to adopt or foster from here is especially great. Every weekend in December, their adoption fee is only $25. Search their adoptable list of pets here, or better yet just show up at 3201 Lacy Street, Los Angeles, CA 90031 phone: 213-485-5767

•PHILADELPHIA, PA•

Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia is offering reduced adoption fees for all pets for the entire month of December. Adult dogs: $25; cats: $20. The adoption fee includes spay/neuter surgery, microchip, and age appropriate vaccinations. Find for your new best friend through their online database or come to their open house on Christmas Day from 11am-3pm. The shelter is open weekdays 1–8pm, and weekends 10-5pm. Located at 111 W Hunting Park Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19140 phone: 267-385-3800

•CHICAGO, IL•

One Tail at a Time is a no-kill, all-breed dog rescue that houses all of their animals in foster care. This holiday season they are one of the many rescues participating in Best Friends Animal Society’s nationwide “Adopt ’til You Drop” campaign. Best Friends is an organization whose mission is to end the killing in America’s shelters. One Tail at a Time is offering $50 off their regular adoption fees until the end of December. All fees cover a wellness exam, spay/neuter, all age-appropriate vaccinations, heartworm test, and microchip. Follow their Facebook page for frequent updates on adoptable pups.

Your soulmate awaits! And here’s a sweet video that friend-to-animals Moby made at Best Friends’ adoption center in LA to help spring you into action: