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(Updated 19/8/01)

Paws for thought this Christmas

IF YOU are thinking of getting a dog this Christmas, think first, it is much better to wait until the new year, when all the fuss and activity of the festive season is over.

Every year, warnings are issued about giving pets as Christmas presents, and yet every January, rescue centres are swamped with unwanted strays. This year, the PDSA is hoping Christmas and the new year will be a happy one for pets.

The Christmas environment can be very distressing for a vulnerable and frightened animal. They will not know where they are and there may be more people, noise and activity in the house than usual, which will scare even the most settled of pets. New pets need lots of peace and quite to help them settle in.

Disaster

Buying a dog as a surprise present will almost inevitably end in disaster, the new owners may not be prepared for how much time the animal takes up. Puppies are especially demanding, requiring supervision and training almost constantly in the early stages.

They may lack the equipment needed such as feeding bowls, collars, food, hutches, toys or other specialised requirements. They may also not welcome the extra expense which any animal will bring.

If you know someone who is keen to own a dog, a better idea is to buy them a book about their chosen breed. Then, when they do take on a new pet, they will be prepared and ready to care for its needs.

Deciding to own a pet means making a commitment to care for the animal for the rest of its life. It is almost impossible to make that decision for someone else, animals cannot decide where to live, and rely on us to make the right decisions for them.