Staff at a leading animal sanctuary have warned parents considering pets as Christmas presents that puppies and young children do not mix.
Staff at the Rainbow Rehoming Centre in Londonderry also said local people needed to factor in the cost, time and energy involved in taking on a pet.
The warning was issued after the latest figures showed that 22 unwanted or stray dogs at Derry City Council’s dog pound had to be destroyed in the month of October alone.
Rainbow founder Helen Davies said that the influx usually starts around February and March, but warned that the problem was evident throughout the year.
“I would strongly advise people not to get puppies for children. They do not mix,” Ms Davies said.
“Puppies are not house-trained. They bite and chew fingers and often people find they cannot cope.
“I would strongly advise people to wait to after Christmas and ideally get a rescue pet, which brings its own blessing and rewards.
“Many of them are in desperate needs of homes and that will be particularly the case after Christmas.”
Ms Davies said that people should realise there was an initial outlay of £40 for a pup’s first vaccinations, while worming, defleaing and neutering will add to the costs.
The Rainbow Centre has appealed for volunteers to take part in a marathon bag pack at Tesco, Lisnagelvin, on December 23. To sign up call the centre at 028 7181 2882.