Pets are good pets but not as a sur­prise

Townsville Bulletin - - Just Briefly -

WITH only two more sleeps un­til Christ­mas many chil­dren around the coun­try are hop­ing Santa will bring them a fam­ily pet.

While RSPCA Aus­tralia, the an­i­mal wel­fare agency, tra­di­tion­ally urges par­ents to re­con­sider buy­ing a pet as a gift, this year the mes­sage is dif­fer­ent.

A spokesman for RSPCA Aus­tralia said the or­gan­i­sa­tion had taken a dif­fer­ent stance this year in an ef­fort to en­cour­age peo­ple think­ing about buy­ing a pet over Christ­mas to adopt one from the RSPCA.

‘‘Pre­vi­ously, we have said not to buy a pet as a Christ­mas gift, so peo­ple will go to back­yard deal­ers or pet shops be­cause they don’t want a lec­ture from us,’’ she said.

‘‘This year we are say­ing that a pet can be a great ad­di­tion to a fam­ily as long as it is not a sur­prise gift.

‘‘Christ­mas can be an ideal time to pur­chase a pet be­cause chil­dren on hol­i­days can learn about the re­spon­si­bil­ity ofhav­ing a pet and re­ally bond with it.’’

RSPCA shel­ters around Aus­tralia re­ceive a large in­flux of un­wanted pets in the post-Christ­mas pe­riod.

‘‘Peo­ple re­alise that they have taken on a life-long com­mit­ment, some­thing they were never pre­pared for,’’ an RSPCA spokes­woman said.

‘‘Adopt­ing a pet at Christ­mas or any other time should never be con­sid­ered be­fore the po­ten­tial owner has thought long and hard about the time, money, space and en­ergy that pet own­er­ship en­tails, and whether they are will­ing and able to ac­cept th­ese re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.’’

The to­tal num­ber of an­i­mals ac­cepted into the RSPCA in­creased by 11 per cent in 2006 from the pre­vi­ous year, with a to­tal num­ber of 146,821 an­i­mals.

The num­ber of­dogs eu­thanased in­creased by 896 in 2006.

How­ever the num­ber of­cats eu­thanased de­clined by 1931.

The shel­ter su­per­vi­sor at the RSPCA head of­fice in Ya­goona, Bethany Amies, said the in­crease in the num­ber of an­i­mals this year could be at­trib­uted to an early kit­ten breed­ing sea­son.

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