WINTER HAVEN — With the holidays a time when people consider giving pets as gifts, Stefanie Badillo, owner of Crossed Paws Pet Rescue, urges people to remember they’re making a lifelong commitment.
“Your pets are forever. They’re not for convenience,” said Badillo, 48. “They’re not for every time your life changes — they don’t change with you because they have feelings too. They should be treated like your children. You wouldn’t give away your child because you’re moving.
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Badillo has been rescuing dogs for 10 years and started Crossed Paws in Winter Haven as a nonprofit in 2018.
The organization’s mission is “to use the power of our community and online resources to find all of our amazing pets stable, loving homes.”
“My passion is to go and trap the sick and the undesirables or the skin and bones in the woods who barely have a day to live,” Badillo said. “Most of my dogs, I have pictures from yesterday and today and they don’t even look like the same dog.
According to the Crossed Paws website, Badillo dog care is supported by a veterinarian and receives vaccinations, neutering, heartworm treatment, and microchipping.
“I’m strictly dons,” she said. “Whatever happens in donations, every dollar goes to my dogs.”
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Badillo does not euthanize animals and says she makes room for any dog she rescues.
In order to adopt from Crossed Paws, there is an application process. Adopters must have permission from their landlords if they are renting or provide proof of ownership of the home. In addition, anyone who has transferred a pet for a reason beyond their control will be refused.
“If you’re adopting a puppy for Christmas, you have to make sure it’s something the whole family wants,” Badillo said.
If you need to return a dog you received from Crossed Paws, Badillo asks you to return it to him.
“And for some reason, I don’t care if the dog is 10 years old from now on, and you can’t keep this dog that you have to give us back,” she said. I want you to put it somewhere else.
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In 2020, Badillo had a total of 898 dog adoptions and his facility is still full of dogs waiting for homes.
“It’s a lifetime commitment and they’re like your kids,” she said. “You have to take care of them because they can’t take care of themselves.”
Crossed Paws Pet Rescue is located at 2720 Havendale Boulevard in Winter Haven. For more information on adopting a dog, visit www.crossedpawspetrescue.org.
Tips for gifting a pet
Make sure everyone in the house agrees to have a pet and understands the responsibilities of having a pet
Allow the recipient to choose a pet to bond with
Make sure that enough time will be spent at home during the holidays to start training the animal
This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Crossed Paws Pet Rescue gives tips for gifting a pet for the holidays.