Known for hordes of deal-hungry consumers wrapped around city blocks in line to buy electronics, toys, and pretty much anything deeply discounted, Black Friday is the time to buy stuff.
One Chicago-area animal shelter believes it is also the time to buy pets.
"Black Fur Day" is in effect all weekend at the Animal Welfare League in the Windy City suburb of Chicago Ridge to capitalize on the yearly buying bonanza by offering lower prices for dog and cat adoption.
Animal Welfare League's shelter often exceeds its 1,400 animal capacity, so president and executive director Linda Estrada helped come up with the idea to help ease the shelter's burden and prepare for what is often a busy season.
"If the retailers can do it, we might as well do it," Estrada said. "And it is common for more animals to be given up during the holidays as people travel and decide they can't care for their animals and for other reasons."
Normally, dogs cost $135 and cats are $79. Through Sunday, however, potential adopters can go home with a dog for $99 or a cat for $49. And with the adoption of one cat, a second cat is free for those who are interested.
"Many people think cats like to be alone, but that's not true," Estrada said. "They actually like to have a partner."
Prices include animal-health services for 10 days and the shelter even offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
"People still pay for these animals and we know the economy is tight," Estrada said. "We don't want anyone to feel stuck after adopting an animal, no more than we want the animal to feel stuck. We want people to be happy with our animals and we want the animals to be happy with them."
Another way for potential caregivers to ensure they choose the right pet is by bringing family members and any pets along when choosing a new one to adopt, Estrada said.
"It's kind of like shoes, you need to feel the fit," Estrada said. "And I wouldn't want people choosing my friends without my input."
Estrada also stressed her belief that people should resist the urge to give pets as holiday gifts. Instead, the shelter offers gift certificates, which can be purchased now at the "Black Fur Day" pricing.
Animal Welfare League is a nonprofit group run solely on donations. It uses contributions to run the large facility, which has nine veterinarians and a full-service, walk-in clinic. The shelter will also accept any animal 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"It takes a lot to keep us running," Estrada said. "These animals deserve all the help they can get."