Call to check cost of pets
Puppies and kittens make good Christmas gifts, but only for people willing to invest plenty of time and money into their care, says SPCA regional manager Geoff Sutton.
Owning a pet was a 15-year commitment, Mr Sutton said.
Too often animals were welcomed as Christmas gifts but soon became unwanted, he said.
Replacement homes for unwanted pets were hard to find and the sad alternative was having a vet put them down.
The first hurdle often came in January or February when people wanted to go on holiday without their new pet, Mr Sutton said.
"It's no use giving grandma a dog because you think she might need one," he said. "Actually, she might rather be out bowling than looking after a pet and the last thing she needs is a gift that might trip her up."
Before buying or requesting a pet as a present, he urged people to check the cost of pet food and consider unexpected expenses such as vet bills which could be very high.
Being a responsible pet owner meant ensuring pets were registered, vet-checked, vaccinated, de-sexed and micro-chipped so if lost they could be returned home.
Mr Sutton dealt with 15 calls to the SPCA earlier this week from people looking for lost cats and dogs. Owners should make sure their property is fenced to stop dogs wandering and get them de-sexed, he said.
Cats were less likely to stray if they were de-sexed and kept well fed and comfortable.
"Otherwise the reality is they'll look for something better," he said.
- The Marlborough Express