The Burke County Animal Services Center is hosting holiday events throughout December. It also is asking folks to foster an animal over Christmas. 

Burke County Animal Services is trying to make the season merry and bright for the animals who will be in the county shelter over the holiday season, and the public has a chance to help.

Holiday events at the shelter kick off on Dec. 5 with decorating the Christmas tree. Staff at the shelter says people can bring a pet-themed ornament to put on the tree and meet the residents. The pet tree will have a Santa wish list for all the animals currently in the care of the shelter.

People can choose an animal on the wish list and purchase their items for Christmas. Items on the wish lists will include things such as a new collar, food, toys, blankets, brushes, treats and beds, said Kaitlin Settlemyre, director of Burke County Animal Services.

Another item that could make a happy Christmas for the animals is a new bed. People have the chance to buy and donate dog/cat Kuranda ShelterBeds to the shelter. The shelter has a wish list on the company’s website at https://donate.shelterbeds.org/390835.

The beds are made in Baltimore, Maryland, and are shipped directly to the shelter, according to the company website.

The shelter will collect the gifts throughout the month and come Christmas Day, the animals still in the shelter’s care will get to open their presents, Settlemyre said.

On Dec. 12, the shelter will host a pet treat decorating and holiday book reading. Settlemyre said the staff will make treats for cats and dogs and will provide some things to decorate them.

Adults and kids also are invited to read holiday-themed books to the cats and dogs, according to Animal Services.

Dec. 19 is trivia night at the shelter and teams of up to six members can participate in the game. There will be six rounds of trivia, including a music round, that is holiday and pet-themed, Settlemyre said. The winner will receive a gift card, she said.

And from Dec. 20-27, the shelter is asking people to provide a “home for the holidays” for the shelter residents. The shelter will furnish all of the supplies needed for the week, as well as gifts to open with the family on Christmas morning, according to information from Animal Services.

Settlemyre said the idea of the “home for the holidays” is to give the animals a break and relieve stress and anxiety from living at the shelter.

She said the ultimate goal is to get the animals adopted but it will also give staff a chance to learn more about the animal from the person who takes them home for the holidays. The folks who take them home for the holidays will be able to share information about the animal with a future adopter, Settlemyre said.

Settlemyre said the goal of the family-oriented events is to engage the community.

All of the holiday events at the shelter are from 5-7 p.m. and light holiday refreshments will be provided but shelter staff is asking folks to leave their family pets at home.

The shelter is located at 425 Kirksey Drive, Morganton and the phone number is 828-438-5465.

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Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946.

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