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SPCA: Think Before You Buy a Pet for Christmas

ROYAL NEW ZEALAND SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS

For release: 29th November 2006

SPCA: THINK BEFORE YOU BUY A PET FOR CHRISTMAS

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The Royal New Zealand SPCA asks that people should think twice before buying a pet for Christmas.

"Cats and dogs should be genuinely loved, wanted and cared-for by their human families. Unfortunately, that isn't always the result when pets are acquired on a whim or as a Christmas treat for the children," says the SPCA's National Chief Executive, Robyn Kippenberger.

"Every January, our shelters across New Zealand fill up with animals purchased on impulse and no longer wanted. It's a heart-wrenching sight, but far worse are the cases of animals abandoned or left without adequate food, water or veterinary care after being acquired thoughtlessly during the pre-Christmas rush," she says.

"So many of these animals are abandoned because owners failed to take into consideration the expense involved in pet ownership. Even a free kitten requires a commitment of approximately $500 a year, for ongoing essentials such as food, vaccinations and worm treatment, not to mention one-off costs such as de-sexing.

"Food and veterinary expenses are even more relevant when purchasing a dog. But, in addition, there will also be significant non-monetary factors to consider, including the need to provide adequate space as well as the time required for walks and exercising. Puppies also require toilet training and have a tendency to dig up gardens and chew slippers. You need to be sure that you can cope with these perfectly normal forms of canine behaviour before acquiring a dog.

"In addition, there are legal obligations involved in dog ownership, including keeping your dog on an adequately - fenced section and ensuring safe access for visitors to your property. As not everyone can provide this type of environment, it is best to think about this before making a purchase, rather than buying a dog and then having to find it a new home," Ms Kippenberger adds.

"Animal members of the family will offer you love, loyalty and companionship over many years. But, when you make them part of your family, you also commit yourself to them for the whole of their lives. Perhaps it isn't a decision to be rushed into without sufficient thought in the middle of your Christmas shopping."

ENDS

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