Thinking of picking up a pet for a belated Christmas gift this Boxing Day? Think again, says the SPCA.
Palmerston North SPCA manager Danny Auger urged people to avoid buying animals as gifts during the giving season.
"You shouldn't really be giving anybody an animal for Christmas except where it has been a family decision. Buying your mother a cat she knows nothing about is not a good idea as sooner or later we may see that animal here."
The Palmerston North SPCA branch alone had taken in an estimated 1500 animals so far this year.
That number was a heavy reduction on 2009's intake of 2250 animals in one year.
The drop did not necessarily mean fewer unwanted animals were out there. Rather it reflected a change of approach at the Palmerston North SPCA, where staff were taking a harder line to avoid becoming a "dumping ground," Mr Auger said.
"We have gradually been cutting down over the last few years and that's had a lot to do with my management changes."
Gone were the days when people could anonymously drop animals at a designated box overnight, or when SPCA animal officers would go out and hunt for strays to take in for food and shelter.
"All of that was beyond the SPCA's key role, which is the prevention of cruelty to animals," Mr Auger said. "We are not a dumping ground."
The emphasis was now on education and rehoming, Mr Auger said.
Palmerston North SPCA has had a strong year, taking six cases of cruelty to animals to court this year. Three cases had resulted in guilty verdicts and a further three are still before the courts.
The organisation was encouraging people who left their animals at home for the holiday season to consider using professional pet-sitters, catteries and kennels rather than leaving them with friends, unless the friends were known to be very reliable.
- Manawatu Standard
If you had a choice, which would you prefer on Christmas day?Related story: Sun takes a Christmas holiday