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Catster HQ Visits the SF SPCA Holiday Windows at Macy’s

Ever wondered what goes on backstage at the world-famous holiday adoption event?

Janine Kahn  |  Nov 20th 2012


“How much is that kitty/puppy in the window?” is not usually a question answered cheerfully here at Catster and Dogster’s world headquarters given our anti-mill critters stance and disdain for pet stores that sell live animals. The exception to the rule are shops that use those windows to adopt pets out, and San Francisco’s flagship Macy’s store may have the most famous adoption windows of them all.

Every year for the past 26, the SF SPCA has partnered with luxury stores downtown (Gumps, Neiman Marcus, and Anthropologie, to name a few) to get the adoption message out, but Macy’s — a steady partner since 2004 — may be their favorite Holiday Windows host of them all.

The store does everything from hosting the opening cermony and backstage adoption area to building the elaborate temperature-regulated displays the puppies and kittens sit in, SF SPCA representative Krista Maloney told us when we met her at the unveiling Friday night.

Krista had invited the Catster crew for a look behind-the-scenes right after the unveiling of the windows, and we were excited for a chance to hang out outside the office with some kittens. Around 80 percent of the pets adopted out at the windows every year are cats, and last year, some cats who’d all but given up hope of a forever home got exactly that.

“Happy was one of the SF SPCA’s most long-term residents,” Krista wrote us in an e-mail before we met up. “He spent eight months waiting for a home before being brought to the Holiday Windows last year. Melissa, Happy’s new guardian, had been looking to adopt but hadn’t found the perfect match. When she saw Happy at Macy’s, she knew he was the right one. She was drawn to the fact that he was mature and less rambunctious than the kittens.”

Melissa would later report that her first year with Happy has been lovely, and that he’s now best friends with her other cat.

Last year was a record-breaker for the windows event, with some 325 pets finding a new home through the display. When the 100th, 200th and 300th pets were adopted out, the SPCA celebrated by awarding those adopters with Macy’s gift certificates and putting their photos on Facebook. This year, they hope to outdo themselves.

Our main concern about the hype of the Holiday Windows was the quality of forever homes they’d draw, but Krista assured us that the volunteers staffing them make potential adopters jump through the same hoops they would at the shelter.

“An adoption counselor meets one-on-one with every potential adopter to discuss their lifestyle, home, history of pet ownership, level of commitment, etc. We want to make sure that all of our animals are going to a home that is best suited for them,” she said.

We got a full tour of the staging area behind the windows, and even got to pet some of the little cuties on display, much to the envy of the crowd outside, who got to watch us give the windows kitties some love.

Krista informed us that the pets are left on display anywhere from half an hour to several hours, depending on how the animal takes to the environment. Crates in a backroom allow the puppies and kittens to get some time away from the public eye, and all the animals return to the shelter each night.

Does your local shelter do anything this cool for the holidays? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.

Photos: All photos outside my one camera snapshot by our very own Liz Acosta.

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