Friday 17 August 2018

'Many people just don't think it through' - shelters bracing themselves for first wave of 'Christmas pets' to be abandoned

The myth that a dog is the perfect Christmas present has to be dispelled
The myth that a dog is the perfect Christmas present has to be dispelled
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

Animal shelters are bracing themselves for the first wave of pets that were given as Christmas presents to be abandoned.

Gillian Bird, Head of Education and Media with the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told Independent.ie that the upcoming mid-term break and summer are particularly busy periods for people giving up animals for adoption.

"The first lot of unwanted dogs is the week of February 12, then the week of March 26, then maybe May 7 and then June, that is because those are the weeks of the mid-term breaks.

"You don't get the unwanted dogs straight after Christmas," Ms Bird said.

"Once you have the children back to school after Christmas and then there's a couple of weeks before the kids are back to their sports and then each member of the family gradually gets bored of their animal.

"By February the dog is still a puppy but coming into March and the Easter Holidays when people are thinking of going away and doing things in the garden, they're thinking that the dog isn't getting the walks he should be so he might be jumping up on the kids and digging holes in the garden, they're realising they haven't put any work into the dog.

Chihuahua (Stock Photo)
Chihuahua (Stock Photo)

"When you come to May kids are doing exams, people are thinking of their holidays and people are thinking what'll they do with the pet.
"By this stage they've had bad training habits and as they are a bit older so they won't be as easily adopted," Ms Bird added.

She also noted that when the weather is improving and families want to spend more time outdoors, they often say they can't cope with a pet that they haven't trained properly.

"When the kids are off school for a week, families want to go away parents think do they want to be stuck with a puppy, they're thinking that they don't want to train it and it's become a nuisance to them because they want to do things like spend time in the garden or throw a barbecue and they just don't want the dog anymore.

"We always notice in November that there's an increase in people wanting to get rid of their dogs, they might be going away for Christmas, they might want to do up the house or have relatives coming who don't like animals.

"These are often animals who were previous years Christmas presents.

"Many people just don't think it through, in January when some people are trying to get fit they get a dog thinking they can bring it on walks but that often falls through.

"Valentine's Day can be bad because people trying to impress their other half might get them a puppy or kitten, thinking it's something cute and different."

She pointed out that anyone considering adopting a furry friend should bear in mind that owning a dog is a minimum €10,000 annual expense, it also requires daily commitment and she pointed out that many landlords won't accept animals, which can prove a problem when people are house-hunting.

A cat
A cat

"A lot of people aren't necessarily prepared for that situation," she said.

Ms Bird said that the DSPCA carry out educational programmes with children about what being a pet owner means entails to try to prevent situations of animals being given up.

She also said that film and TV impacts what kind of animals are being adopted and possibly later given up.

She said: "After Rango people wanted chameleons, there were sloths and a few years ago, with Finding Nemo there was a trend for clownfish and after Game of Thrones there were a lot of people who wanted wolves so there was a demand for huskies."

  • For more information about the DSPCA, please visit here

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