A big-hearted Cork couple are playing real-life Santa to thousands of unwanted dogs this Christmas by giving them free coats to keep them warm over the winter.
Tony and Alice Cross, who are behind the successful Maxi Zoo pet store chain, will kit out more than 2,000 dogs in the care of 15 charities with a free coat to keep them warm over the coming months.
The couple, who operate 15 pet stores nationwide, plan to give away approximately €160,000 of stock in an effort to ensure that as many animals as possible are protected from the wet and chilly weather.
The pair have a policy of ensuring that each Maxi Zoo store supports a local dog charity but their decision to make such a generous donation is the biggest charity project they have ever undertaken.
Executive director of Maxi Zoo Ireland Alice Cross said that dog coats are valuable protection for smaller dogs who might not be able to withstand very cold weather.
“A dog’s breed, age, size and state of health affects how well it can withstand cold. Not every dog is robust and the slender breeds can freeze quite easily. A lot of dog breeds are originally from warmer climates and need protection in cold seasons. Their hair is often not thick enough to insulate their bodies so it made perfect sense for us to donate dog coats,” she said.
The dog coats, by leading brands such as Smilla, Flinn and Hurtta, are among the best sellers at Maxi Zoo stores nationwide. The coats feature everything from fleece lining to reflective, water resistant and breathable materials.
Ms Cross said the commonly held view that dog coats are just simply fashion accessories was misplaced and they serve a valuable function.
“Putting a dog in a coat has nothing to do with vanity. It is about responsible pet ownership. There is no good reason why a dog’s clothing should not be as good as that of its owner’s outdoor clothing,” she said.
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