Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 13, 2004
The holiday is going to the dogs
Child poverty climbs while we splurge on our furry friends
By SUZANNE ELSTON
The pressure's on. With only a couple weeks to go, Christmas shopping is reaching a fever pitch. Consumers are desperate to find the perfect gifts for friends and family, teachers, co-workers and pets.
Yes, in a world where half the children go to bed hungry every night, our four-legged furry friends need not worry. According to two recent news releases, the kids may starve, but our pets are going to be well taken care of this holiday season. While there aren't any current statistics available for Canada, a survey conducted by Churchill Insurance estimates that Britons will be spending an estimated $539 million on presents for their pets this Christmas. According to the Churchill study, 73 per cent of British pet owners plan to buy gifts for their pets and 46 per cent of these pets will receive their presents in a customized Christmas stocking.
Pet spending doubles
"American spending on pets has nearly doubled, despite the recent sluggish economy," said a recent news release from The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA). Pet products are now a $31-billion industry.
Just in case all this pressure to provide the perfect present for pooch has left you stuck for gift ideas, Orca Communications' Best Products Pets Media Guide has a few suggestions. These include handcrafted leather dog collars made from fine Swiss leather and decorated with hand-tooled brass or alpine silver ornaments (US$60 to $200) and a designer "Leroy" sofa for dogs (US$165 to $515).
A little surfing of the web also found Santa suits, drying sacks and towels for your favourite ferret and for that pooch on your list, people crackers in the shape of mail carriers, milkmen and policemen, "the people dogs love to eat, baked up into crunchy treats." Finally for the dog that has everything, there's "K9 Fusion" a mixed breed of acid rock composed by Sven the Love Dog. According to the Orca website, "You have to hear it to believe it!"
What I find hard to believe is that all this comes at a time when child poverty is on the rise. Last month, Campaign 2000 reported that about a million children, or more than 15 per cent of all Canadian kids, are growing up poor in a country that consistently posts budget surpluses. Campaign 2000 was formed to support the 1989 all-party House of Commons resolution to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000.
Its most recent report is One Million Too Many: Implementing Solutions to Child Poverty in Canada (2004 Report Card on Child Poverty in Canada). Four years after the job was supposed to be done, children in this country continue to live in conditions that in some cases are even unfit for animals.
There is something seriously wrong with this picture. I've been a pet owner all my life and our retriever Jessie is a valued member of our family, but she certainly won't be getting a hand-tooled leather collar or even a personalized Christmas stocking this year.
Instead, I think we'll make her some doggie cookies and send the money that we save to a children's charity instead. I invite other pet owners to do the same.
For more on the war to end child poverty in Canada or to make a charitable donation, visit the Campaign 2000 website at www.campaign2000.ca.
For a truly unique Christmas gift for the humans on your list, visit UNICEF Canada at www.shopunicef.ca and give your family and friends the Gift of Magic. For a minimum $35 donation, you can give a child the gift of education, clean water or warmth, in the name of someone you love.
Each gift folder contains a certificate for you to personalize and a beautiful envelope for mailing. Income tax receipts are issued for all gifts.
For a list of dog cookie recipes and other canine treats you can make, visit www.recipesource.com/misc/pet-food/dog/.
You have to see it to believe it. Orca Communications Best Products Pets Media Guide is located at www.bestproductsmediaguide.com/pet.holiday.03.html.
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