My Furry Valentine
Anyone who has survived a high school Valentine's Day dance, a prom, New Year's Eve and the alleged Mr. or Ms. Right (Nos. 1 through 5) knows that celebrating Feb. 14 is an exercise in futility. Restaurants are overcrowded, no one wants to fall off a diet with a giant box of chocolates, and I don't know where all those bushels of red roses that florists are jacking up the prices on are going, but they're not showing up at my place or any of my girlfriends' doors. The only institutions I know of where people will be reveling in Valentine's Day festivities are elementary schools and my mother's elderly living community.
So it seems fitting that Valentine's Day would be going to the dogs -- and cats and rabbits and lions and tigers. In the last few years, rescue groups, municipal animal shelters and the L.A. Zoo have cleverly turned Valentine's Day or the weekend near it into an occasion for events for lovers of furry creatures, wild and domestic. Shelters and rescue groups plan adoption events and reduce fees to draw people looking for pets.
The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control and the Los Angeles Animal Alliance are hosting a "FURever Yours" event from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at two of the county shelters, the Carson Animal Care Center, 216 W. Victoria St., Gardena; and the Downey Animal Care Center, 11258 S. Garfield Ave. in Downey. Adoption fees will be 50% off.
The nonprofit Pet Care Foundation is hosting adoption events at all of the L.A. city shelters on Sunday, Feb. 12, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ("Adopt a Shelter Sweetheart!" cries the online announcement.) It promises refreshments, Valentine card making, pet matchmaking and discounted fees.
And although you can't take home wild animals, you can learn about their romantic rituals and mating habits at the Los Angeles Zoo's "Sex and the City Zoo" lecture the evening of Feb. 12, given by Jason Jacobs, the zoo's director of marketing and public relations. The zoo is selling tickets online to the adults-only event, which starts at 5 p.m. with a pre-lecture champagne-and-wine reception.
Most shelters and rescue groups discourage giving pets as surprise gifts to people for holidays, and some outright ban the adoption of black cats at Halloween and rabbits at Easter. Caring for a pet is a years-long obligation, and adopting an animal should not be done impulsively for yourself or anyone else without the adopter having thought through the commitment. Of course, shelters are advertising their animals on Valentine's Day as that special love-ball-of-fur, and that could certainly prompt someone feeling down on Valentine's Day to get a dog or cat on a whim. "I'll be your Valentine every day of the year," one independent website offers as a marketing tip for shelters.
But as animal welfare advocates urge people to adopt from shelters, Valentine's Day does seem to be the perfect day to emphasize how much unconditional love you get from a pet year-round. Just remember: You can't break up with your cat or dog.
And keep whatever roses you do get from your human honey out of reach of your furry love. On those occasions when I have had roses in my apartment, my cat always assumed they were there for his chewing pleasure.
Photo: Kittens up for adoption in 2007 at the North Central animal shelter in Los Angeles. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times