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19/12/01
Help make pets' Christmas wishes come true

Pets up and down the country all have the same Christmas wish - to make this festive season the most animal-friendly ever.

And to help make pets' dreams come true this Christmas the RSPCA is calling for every pet owner to follow the Society's top 10 festive tips.

The RSPCA is also relaunching a national advertising campaign to hammer home the message that pets are a commitment for life.

An award-winning television advert, which will be shown nationally in the run up to Christmas, emphasises the Society's annual message not to buy animals as Christmas presents. Shot like a children's toy commercial, the advert shows a family playing with a new puppy on Christmas morning. But by the end of the commercial the novelty has worn off and the puppy faces abandonment.

Chris Laurence, the RSPCA's chief veterinary officer, said: "It is a very hard-hitting advert and was very successful when it was shown last Christmas. Every year we have to deal with animals that are abandoned once the novelty has worn off. We hope the commercial will make people think twice about buying pets as Christmas presents and make them realise how important it is to carefully consider the cost, care and commitment involved in looking after a pet for the rest of its life - it is not a decision to be taken lightly, or on behalf of anyone else".

For a completely animal-friendly Christmas, people should follow the RSPCA's top 10 festive tips:

• Don't give pets as presents. Taking on a pet is a commitment for life and should never be made on someone else's behalf.

• Don't leave pets at home alone if you go away this Christmas.

• Think about travel arrangements. If you are taking your pet away with you, make sure it has water and exercise during long journeys.

• Keep your pet in a quiet room away from loud bangs from crackers and party poppers.

• Be sensible with Christmas treats. Never give pets bones as they could choke on them.

• Try to stick to your usual care routine as Christmas can be a very unsettling time for pets.

• Don't buy your pet toys that can be easily swallowed or choked on.

• Don't forget about animals kept outside. Pets such as horses, rabbits and pond fish need extra attention at this time of year. Fishponds and horse troughs should be regularly checked in case the water freezes over.

• Make sure you have details of emergency vets available during the Christmas and New Year period.