Christmas pets a big committment

ELLE HUNT
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012
christmas kitten
FAIRFAX NZ

FOSTER US: Christmas kittens up for adoption are in desperate need of carers.

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A puppy beneath the tree might be a key image of Christmas, but the SPCA is urging people to remember the commitment that comes with pet ownership.

Last week Trade Me released a list of its must-haves for the Christmas season, according to searches on the site over the seven days before.

Puppies were the sixth and seventh most popular searches for Trade Me members in the Wellington region.

Dogs and puppies were also the sixth most popular search for users nationally.

Wellington SPCA animal care and adoptions manager Nicholas Taylor warns that, as much as the SPCA wants to see animals rehomed, they are a long-term commitment.

"All animals are for life, not just for Christmas. We do love the idea of animals being home for the holidays, so it's a really hard balance.

"It's not that we don't want people adopting over Christmas, but we want the animals in permanent homes. Pet ownership is a 10- to-15-year commitment, and we want people making that decision for themselves."

Mr Taylor asks that people wishing to give animals as gifts over the holiday season involve the recipient in the decision.

"Giving animals as surprise presents doesn't work, but it's great when people come in and choose a pet as a family, so everybody knows what they're getting themselves into."

Mr Taylor says adoptions pick up in January because people have time off to spend with their new pet. "We do notice a spike, but that's probably more to do with the fact that it's the summer holidays, rather than Christmas.

"This is a great time to adopt because you've got time to make sure the animal settles in."

It also coincides with the height of the kitten season. Wellington SPCA has 250 kittens up for adoption, many of which are in desperate need of fosterers.

For people not able to commit to caring for an animal for its lifetime, Mr Taylor suggests that signing up to be fosterers or volunteers might be a good compromise. "When people want to spend time with animals but can't commit to one of their own, there's huge opportunities at the centre.

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