Shelters set for surge in abandoned dogs after Christmas
AN animal behaviour expert has pleaded with families not to give puppies as Christmas presents but instead to consider offering a rescued dog a new home.
The plea was issued by animal behaviour expert Nanci Creedon as animal welfare charities warned of an expected surge in abandoned dogs between January and March each year as people tire of cute puppies which suddenly start to grow into big dogs.
It is estimated more than one-in-five puppies given as Christmas presents will ultimately be abandoned or handed in to dog shelters as unsuitable.
As the Christmas puppy market is now worth millions, animal welfare charities also urged people determined to give children the gift of a pet on December 25 to consider alternatives.
"I am pleading to anyone out there with the intention of buying a pup this Christmas to just stop and think."
"Waiting until spring will mean that you can sleep well at night knowing you saved a life when Irish dog shelters are flooded with unwanted Christmas puppies. It doesn't get much better than saving a dog's life in those circumstances."
The ISPCA, DSPCA and Dogs Trust Ireland said people need to think carefully about a puppy purchase - and, if they are determined to proceed, to only buy from reputable breeders.
"Growing up, I nagged my parents for a dog of my own. Birthdays and Christmas were my main opportunities for emotional blackmail," said Nanci.
"But now that I'm older and work in the industry I'm very grateful that my parents had the backbone to say 'no' to me over and over again."
Nanci's first dog was 'Missy', a border collie rescued from a shelter. "There is nothing more grateful and loving than a dog which has come through tough times to appreciate the care and affection of their very own loving family."
"I regularly work with dogs that have come from puppy farms or backyard breeders where cash is king and vital appropriate socialisation has been ignored, resulting in fearful or aggressive dogs showing abnormal behaviour."
On average, about one in six dogs taken into Irish pounds are put down because homes cannot be found.
Animal welfare groups urged families to consider giving children gifts of books on dog welfare and then going to shelters in the New Year to give a dog a new home where youngsters are fully prepared for caring for their new pet.