It’s that time of year again where we frantically try to outdo ourselves and find better presents than last year. And what better gift is there than the gift of friendship? Man’s best friend, right?
Not necessarily. While the thought of a cute little puppy running around the tree on Christmas morning sounds like a brilliant idea, the RSPCA is warning us to think twice.
Gift dogs can soon be forgotten, just like other toys which fast become old news. And unlike sweaters from nan or socks from aunty, pets cannot be returned.
“Around this time of year we experience a definite spike in the number of patients,” said Lukas Picton from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Their caseload can skyrocket by more than 4000.
Mr Picton said people who give animals as gifts often fail to consider the long term effects.
“The animal gift giver is often after the high and thrill of seeing the person’s face light up. And for an hour, a week, maybe even a year, everything works out just dandy,” he said.
“The reality is, soon after, many of the holiday gift pets are up for adoption.”
The RSPCA has a strict “no surprise” adoption policy, but most pet shops and breeders do not follow this code. Pet adoption should be a carefully-considered decision taken with the family’s consent, Mr Picton said.
“If you know a particular person is a dog lover, but does not already have one, there’s probably a good reason why.”
For those who want to do a good deed for animals this Christmas, charities are often the better way to go. Based in Surry Hills, Give a Dog a Bone is a local drive that organises food donations for cats and dogs. All donations make their way to the RSPCA as well as Monikas Doggy Rescue and other projects for pets in need.