THE Scottish SPCA has warned of the dangers of giving pets as Christmas gifts as the charity prepares for one of its busiest and most heartbreaking times of year.
Scotland’s animal welfare charity has also revealed some of the excuses given for young and elderly pets being given up during the festive period.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “Sadly, our animal rescue and re-homing centres are full every Christmas. It’s a time of year when many of our centres are asked to take in elderly pets, with dogs being the most common.
“The excuses our staff have heard have been shocking, with some owners telling us they have suddenly developed an allergy to a pet they’ve had for years. Others have said they’ve simply had enough of their pet because it’s so old and some have even told us they don’t want their dog making their house untidy when they have guests for Christmas.”
He continued: “We know that in some of these cases the owners have in fact been making space for a new puppy or a younger pet, which is disgusting and extremely callous.
“Our centres will stop re-homing young animals between December 20th and January 3rd because we have to be very careful they aren’t being taken on by anyone who wants a new pet for Christmas and hasn’t fully thought through their decision.
“Taking on a pet is a commitment for that animal’s lifetime and new owners should ensure they have the time and resources they need and understand their responsibilities.”
Chief Supt. Flynn said the Christmas period continues to have a distressing impact in the New Year.
“It’s another upsetting reality that in the weeks and months after Christmas our centres are often asked to take in puppies, kittens and other pets given as presents once the novelty has worn off,” he said.
“Or, even worse, some of these pets are abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
“Clearly, in these instances the owners hadn’t realised that the young pet which was great fun at Christmas would need to be house-trained and properly socialised and that this would require effort on their part.
“Our message is pets are a long-term commitment and responsibility, not presents which can be given on Christmas Day and forgotten about soon afterwards.”
On Christmas Day last year the Scottish SPCA was called to rescue an elderly dog dumped on a remote country road and left for dead.
Chief Supt. Flynn expanded: “It’s almost unthinkable that someone would do something so cruel.
“Winter could easily have been knocked down and killed and it was clear whoever did this didn’t care what happened to him.
“While we didn’t receive the information we needed to find Winter’s owner, we can’t rule out the possibility he was abandoned to make way for a Christmas puppy.
“Thankfully, we were able to rescue Winter before it was too late and soon found him a loving new home.”