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Think Twice Before Buying A Pet For Christmas

13 December 2005

SPCA: "Think Twice Before Buying A Pet For Christmas"

With Christmas on the horizon, the Royal New Zealand SPCA is appealing to the public to think twice before buying pets as presents

"You shouldn't buy an animal on a whim or simply because you want to give the kids a short–term treat over Christmas. Remember that your cat, dog, kitten or puppy is still going to be there, requiring feeding and other care when the holiday decorations come down," says the SPCA's National Chief Executive, Robyn McDonald.

"It's terrible every January to see our shelters fill up with animals who were bought on impulse and are no longer wanted. Even more heart–wrenching are the cases of animals abandoned or left at home without adequate food, water or veterinary care after being acquired thoughtlessly at this time of year," she says.

Robyn McDonald adds that many pets purchased in the pre-Christmas rush end up abandoned because their owners are unprepared for the cost of caring for them. A kitten, for example, may be relatively cheap to acquire but will cost around $500 per year to provide with the normal ongoing essentials such as food, vaccinations and worm treatment. In addition, there can be one-off costs such as de-sexing.

"There are also non-monetary factors to consider before acquiring an animal. In the case of dogs, for example, you need to be sure that you can provide adequate space as well as the time needed for exercising the new member of your household. With some breeds of dogs, you may also need to ask yourself whether you are able to cope with hairs all over your drapes and furniture. And with puppies, you have to expect toilet training problems, gardens dug-up and slippers chewed to pieces.

"In addition, dog-ownership involves legal obligations such as keeping your dog on an adequately fenced section. You are also responsible for ensuring access to your front doors. If you cannot meet these requirements, then it might be wise to put off owning a dog until your circumstances change. It's best to think these matters through in advance, rather than to purchase an animal and then have to find it a new home," she says.

"New Zealand is full of sensible, kind-hearted people who are fully capable of providing a loving home for a kitten, puppy or adult dog or cat. And there's certainly no shortage of animals who desperately need a human individual or family to care for them.

"This year, there's a particularly pressing need for responsible pet owners to come forward as the early start to the warm spring weather has accelerated animals' breeding cycles and our shelters are even more full than usual with unwanted puppies and kittens.

"We do, however, ask people to think hard before embarking on pet ownership. They are taking on a responsibility which will hopefully last many years requiring time, money and commitment. The reward is the love and companionship of your new pet but this may not be something to be rushed into without enough thought in the middle of your Christmas shopping." says Robyn McDonald.


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