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Avoid Pets' Summer Holiday Suffering

ROYAL NEW ZEALAND SOCIETY FOR THE PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS

9 December 2003

AVOID PETS' SUMMER HOLIDAY SUFFERING

The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has called on pet owners to plan ahead and avoid animals suffering unnecessarily over the Christmas holiday period.

"Following this year's cool, wet spring, most New Zealanders are looking forward to the summer weather and perhaps to getting away from home for a few days or weeks. Most of us certainly deserve the break. But we need to make sure that our time of relaxation and enjoyment does not become one long nightmare for the animals who share our lives," says Royal New Zealand SPCA Chief Executive, Peter Blomkamp "In practice, the options for holiday pet-care consist of boarding animals in a kennel or cattery, leaving them with a friend or neighbour or, in some cases, taking your pet on holiday with you.

"Your local vet, kennel club or SPCA branch may well be able to help with your choice of kennel or cattery. But you should bear in mind that many kennels and catteries only take in pets who are more than four months old and have fully up-to-date vaccinations. Moreover, some kennels and catteries will only accept de-sexed animals. Our recommendation is that you check out these requirements well ahead of your holiday and avoid last minute panics," he says.

"An alternative is to leave your pet in the care of a friend or neighbour. But, before you go down this track, ask yourself how reliable your friend is likely to be when looking after an animal. We all know people whose company we enjoy but who aren't to be relied on absolutely and who might not give our pets the priority they require. So choose carefully," cautions Mr Blomkamp.

He adds that a good way of ensuring your pet is well cared for is to ask a friend to actually stay in your home whilst you're away. This will avoid the upset and anxiety which animals can experience when being moved to new surroundings. A further alternative is for a friend to pop-in regularly to make sure a pet is properly fed, watered and, in the case of a dog, taken for walks.

"Dogs are highly social animals who tend to miss their owners and need company on a regular basis. But they're not totally alone in this and even highly independent cats like a bit of companionship from time to time. Meanwhile caged birds, rabbits, guinea pigs or fish all need someone to ensure that they're kept out of direct sunlight and in generally cool conditions during the hot summer weather.

"An important point to remember is that the person looking after your pet will need to know your vet's telephone number and where and how to contact you if there's an emergency. Other neighbours also need to be informed that your pet is being looked after so that they don't worry unduly and contact the SPCA or the police," says Mr Blomkamp.

When it comes to taking animals away on holiday, the SPCA firmly recommends placing both home and holiday addresses on your pet's identity disc. It also emphasises that some animals are poor travellers and, in these cases, advises owners to consult a vet for advice on sedatives and tranquillisers.

"Other important tips include ensuring your pet is on a lead or in a cage whilst you're driving. No animal should be allowed to roam freely around the car whilst it's in motion. On the other hand, your pet shouldn't be kept in a cardboard box for lengthy periods.

"It's also important to take your animal's favourite food and any medications that might be required, as well as flea treatment and, in the case of cats, a tray and kitty litter. In addition, there should be water available in the car and you will need to make frequent stops for toileting and exercise and to allow your pet to cool off. These stops should be made at least every two hours and more regularly during warm weather.

"Above all, don't leave your pet unattended in the car, especially during hot weather, as this could lead to heat stroke or even death," Mr Blomkamp says.

ENDS

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