A local animal rights group has urged children not to ask for pets as presents this Christmas.
And Galway Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) warned animals should not be gifted as a ‘surprise’.
“It doesn’t matter how much someone loves animals; they don’t want one sprung on them. Pets as surprises are just not a good idea,” said Tara Croke, GSPCA cattery and small animal manager based in Athenry.
The cliché ‘pets are for life, not just for Christmas’ was true and she urged people to hold-off until the New Year.
“Christmas is a busy time for most people. It’s not a great time to introduce a new family member because you don’t have the time to focus on getting them settled into your routine. You don’t have a normal Monday-to-Friday routine over Christmas.
“On Christmas morning, anyone with kids would know, any present they get is looked at for ten minutes and forgotten about for the rest of the day because there’s just so much going on. You can’t do that with an animal. A dog, cat, rabbit, or guinea pig needs your undivided attention for the first few days while it settles and gets used to your home,” Ms Croke said.
She said Santa Claus generally did not deliver pets as presents.
“It’s not feasible for him to bring a live animal on a sleigh. Santy can bring a voucher for a pet, or all the equipment you need for a new pet, but he doesn’t have to bring the actual pet on the day.
“Let Santy bring the cages and hay and food, and then let Santy talk to the rescue homes to have a pet ready for after Christmas when the family is back in a routine. It’s not like a PlayStation, it is a living breathing animal and parents need to realise they are responsible for the animal,” she said.
Post-Christmas, some people get instant regret and surrender unwanted pets in January, but it was between February and April when animal charities see a spike in abandoned or surrendered animals.
“The puppies are no longer cute. The cats are going through adolescent phase and climbing curtains. The rabbit hasn’t settled, it’s stressed to the nines because it hasn’t got enough attention or the attention it’s getting is wrong. And the kids have lost interest. That’s when parents say, ‘well I’m not doing it’ and it is bye, bye animals,” Ms Croke said.
She added GSPCA, which has a charity shop in Briarhill, cannot currently keep up with the number of animals surrendered, and was turning away cats, dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits.
Pictured: Warning…pets are not just for Christmas.
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