Santa Paws is coming to town

Posted 10th December 2023

Cost of living crisis or not, it seems that when it comes to Christmas, we love to spoil our pets, writes Sammy Jones.

In 2022, three in five pet owners went shopping for Fido and Fluffy, and retailers will have been barking with delight – with more than £870 million pounds spent on our much loved companions.

It’s understandable; they are constantly by our side, provide unwavering love and they make us feel good, don’t they?

Buying my animals Christmas presents has always been a thing – Joseph and Minnie even have their own Christmas stockings which are filled with tasty treats and toys that will invariably be discarded under the sofa within the first 10 minutes, only to be rediscovered at Easter!

This year, I will make the same trip to the pet shop to buy the fur babies something, but this time we’ll be redistributing some of that money we usually spend – so that it can benefit the animals who would otherwise go without.

Animals in Need are constantly on the hunt for spare pennies and pounds, and that’s because the charity receives no official funding, instead relying on the generosity of supporters – and with 100s of mouths needing fed, money is soon eaten up.

But Christmas is a special time at AIN too – Santa Paws pays his visit every Christmas Eve and the staff and small army of volunteers will be on site early on Christmas Day distributing the goodies. But there’s lots of hard work to be done too, it’s not all baubles and crackers!

While you are cosying up in your festive pyjamas with the family on Christmas morning, volunteers still have pens to clean out, breakfasts to serve and animals needing reassurance.

“In many regards, Christmas Day is the same as any other here at Pine Farm,” says Annie Marriott, who shares management of the rescue centre with her husband, AIN founder Roy.

“We have some seriously dedicated volunteers who give up some of their family time on Christmas Day and throughout the whole holiday period to help us.
Their generosity of time is huge – it means everything to us. We simply couldn’t exist without them,” she said, giving a nod over to the site.

With Christmas edging ever closer, the charity has launched its annual festive appeal, and it’s super easy to get involved and help give a bunny a brilliant day or make a doggies’ tail wag!

“Once again we are inviting everyone to give a gift for one of our many animals by filling a shoebox with relevant items,” Annie said, “You choose the animal that you would like to give the gift for, and what you pop in is down to you. For example, you might make a box for a cat, and want to include cat toys, some treats and a blanket, or perhaps you want to make a box for a dog, with some chews, a new collar and a cuddly teddy.

“It’s our wish that every last animal in our care gets a Christmas gift, so we are also looking for gifts for our birds, reptiles and small rodents.”
Gifts don’t need to be expensive, and if you want to involve the kids you can let them choose an item a week for the box as part of your shopping trip.

“We are acutely aware that people are finding it harder than ever to make ends meet, and we appreciate every pack of chews and every squeaky reindeer we receive!” Annie said with a smile, “If you can’t afford to fill a shoebox, please just send one item. I can tell you from experience that a dog ripping open their first ever Christmas gift after a life when they’ve never before been shown love, or a cat that has never learned how to play taking tentative steps to swipe their new toy is a sight to make you melt.

“These little beings just want to be loved, and watching them as they learn how to just be and feel secure is wonderful – it’s always amplified during the Christmas period.”

Annie and Roy won’t have their vegan festive roast ‘with all the trimmings,’ until all the animals have been fed, watered, walked (where applicable), given their gifts and had some affection – a sprout won’t pass their lips until teatime.

“It can be a little bit taxing waiting for dinner as I do love my Christmas roast,” Annie laughs, “But this is Animals in Need and the animals come first. When we finally sit down to eat, we know that all the animals around us have full bellies, are warm and have been shown they are loved. That’s worth all the sprouts in the world to me!” Annie smiled.

How you can spread some festive cheer for AIN

The creative one

Make up one of those shoe boxes with gifts for an animal of your choice. Can’t decide whether to buy for a dog, cat or snake? Feel free to contribute more than one – they will all be gratefully received. Don’t have a shoebox? Any box – or bag – will do.

The banking one

Time is precious and maybe you like the idea of contributing a Christmas box but you haven’t even hit the shops for your own brood yet.
Make a donation from your bank to theirs and AIN will turn it into presents. Choose a one-off donation or a regular standing order – the choice is yours. And there is no amount too small – every pound really does count.

If you would like to donate,
the account details are:
‘Animals in Need Northamptonshire’
Sort Code: 08-90-73
Account No: 50304604

The sponsorship one

Can’t decide what to get that ‘awkward to buy for’ friend or family member? Sponsor an AIN resident animal in their name – choose from Lola Pig, Shelley Cat, George the Pony, Rocky Sheep and many others.

Animals in Need is always looking for hardworking, passionate volunteers and reliable foster homes, and of course if you are looking to increase your family in number, always adopt, never shop – AIN’s kennels, cattery and pens are full of beautiful animals desperate to love and be loved.

For more information on how you can make a difference, this Christmas and beyond, visit or call 01933 278080. Visit the FB page: @AnimalsInNeedMaxicare