Belfast Telegraph

It's a shame so many underestimate commitment needed to look after a pet only to dump them after Christmas

Every festive season we hear the same mantra: a dog, cat or any other pet is not just for Christmas, it is for life. And, equally inevitably, a few weeks later those running animal sanctuaries begin to get animals bought as pets handed over to them because their new owners cannot cope
Every festive season we hear the same mantra: a dog, cat or any other pet is not just for Christmas, it is for life. And, equally inevitably, a few weeks later those running animal sanctuaries begin to get animals bought as pets handed over to them because their new owners cannot cope

Editor's Viewpoint

Every festive season we hear the same mantra: a dog, cat or any other pet is not just for Christmas, it is for life. And, equally inevitably, a few weeks later those running animal sanctuaries begin to get animals bought as pets handed over to them because their new owners cannot cope.

As any animal lover will testify, looking after a pet is a demanding job. Dogs require more and more exercise as they grow. Some may have seemed ideal home pets when they were puppies but they soon outgrow that environment.

Even smaller pets like rabbits require a lot of attention and that can include expensive veterinary care, which the new owners may not have anticipated.

There is no doubt that pets can make beguiling presents, especially to young children, but the joy can lessen when the reality of looking after them becomes apparent.

The sanctuaries and rehoming centres do an incredible job looking after abandoned or returned pets and do their best to ensure any pet that is given a new home is going to people who understand the responsibility entailed.

Great credit must go to the staff at these centres, many of them unpaid volunteers who worked over the festive season while the rest of us were enjoying ourselves.

They are dedicated and often form a bond with the animals that end up in their care.

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As one told this newspaper, the animals are very well looked after by staff and get plenty of exercise and the best of food. Anyone considering taking on a new pet should make several visits to the centres to see exactly the work involved in looking after the animals.

Staff at the various centres expect many more animals to be brought to them over the coming weeks. This will be a case of deja vu as animals come back to them and they seek other new owners. That can be quite heartbreaking for these true animal lovers who must wonder how anyone can give up pets after only a few weeks of ownership.

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