17 December 2019

An animal should never be an impulse purchase, or a surprise Christmas gift, RSPCA WA is warning.

With cute puppies and cuddly kittens high on many gift wish lists, the charity is urging people to remember that pets require a commitment of up to 15 years – or more!

While the Christmas holidays can be a great time to welcome a furry family member, it’s important to consider your short and long-term plans, and the costs involved, before taking the plunge.

In the 2018-19 financial year, 998 animals were surrendered to RSPCA WA. These animals were surrendered for a variety of reasons – but for many it was because their owner couldn’t afford vet care.

People considering opening their heart and home to a furry, feathered or finned new friend should do their research. They should find out as much as possible about the type of animal they’re looking to get – paying particular attention to the level of care required and the costs involved.

Caring for a pet takes a considerable amount of time. Exercise, socialisation, grooming, feeding, reward-based training, play time and company are all critical aspects of responsible pet ownership.

Some pets require more time than others, but every pet needs daily care, so you’ll need to be sure you have time available each day.

Pets can also be expensive. In addition to upfront costs, you’ll need to pay for food, parasite treatment, vet check-ups, training, council registration fees, boarding, toys and bedding for the pet’s life. You’ll also need to be prepared for costs associated with emergency vet treatment.

If you do decide you have room for a pet in your life, and can provide it with the care and attention it deserves, then visiting a shelter to ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’ could be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.

RSPCA WA Communications Manager Richard Schoonraad:

“A pet can add much joy and happiness to a household, but they also have important needs and are a big responsibility.

“If you’re ready to make a commitment to a furry friend, Christmas can actually be a great time to adopt, as there’s plenty of time for your new pet to settle in and bond with you.

“But we do see hundreds of animals come through the shelter doors each year because owners have been caught off guard with vets bills, or because puppies have outgrown the ‘cute’ stage and their behaviour has become harder to manage.

“We’re reminding potential pet owners that getting a dog or cat means making a commitment for the animal’s entire life – which could be 10-15 years or even longer.

“Pets are living, breathing and sensitive creatures and should never be treated as objects or play things.

“If you need a gift idea for the animal lover in your life, consider making them a Guardian Angel, so they can watch over an animal spending Christmas at the shelter, or consider puppy kindy or dog training vouchers.”