COLUMN: A pet is for life, not just for Christmas

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With only a few days left until Christmas Day is here, many of us may still be thinking about we’re going to get for our loved ones this year.

And despite the warnings to the contrary, some people will be considering buying a pet for their nearest or dearest.

The saying ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ is rolled out by animal charities over and over again at this time of year, but it probably should be ‘A pet is for life, not just for Christmas’.

Pets don’t make great gifts; animals are an enormous responsibility so it should go without saying, no one should be making the decision to take on a pet for someone else.

All animals – whether they be a puppy, a kitten, a rabbit or something more exotic – require commitment, time and money.

And all owners are legally obliged to ensure their pet’s needs are met, no matter how simple or complex.

Pets do not come with a gift receipt that can be returned or exchanged for something that fits the receiver’s lifestyle better. They are not something that should be ignored, given away or thrown out once the excitement or interest wears off.

Sadly, here at the RSPCA, we see these things over and over again.

If your loved one loves animals, why not make a donation in their name instead?

On the RSPCA’s website you can buy a Christmas dinner for an animal in our care; you can buy bed and breakfast for a dog, a cat or a horse, straw for pigs, toys for chickens or a snuggle pad for hedgehogs whilst they are rehabilitated at our wildlife centres. Your loved one will receive a printed card or an e-card with your message inside, whilst 100% of the donation goes towards the area of work the gift supports.

If you want to support your local RSPCA branch or animal centres you could donate direct to them, and many have their own gift lists, including items the animals in their care would like for Christmas.

From all of us at the RSPCA, we wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Visit www.rspca.org.uk for animal advice and information.