It is important to remember that if you’re planning on buying a pet as a gift this Christmas, they are a lifetime commitment.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said owning a pet was a major responsibility that lasted long after Christmas Day.
“You need to be absolutely sure that the person or family receiving a pet as a gift will commit to its lifelong care,” Mr Furner said.
“If you have the slightest doubt about their ability to do so, then you need to find another present.
“Think about the costs of caring for a pet, how much free time you and your family have to spend with it, and will it suit your family in the years ahead?
“Cute puppies for example can grow into large adult dogs that need lots of exercise, training and veterinary care.
“You can’t just send them back if it’s too much work and responsibility, and we all have a legal obligation to look after animals in our care.”
RSPCA Bundaberg’s Animal Care Manager Lorin Gray said they tended to see an influx in the number of pets surrendered to them early in the new year, which is a pattern they wanted to see changed.
“Unfortunately, the first part of the new year following Christmas is often a time when we see a higher return rate of animals, although our policy on not adopting for gift purposes has certainly helped to overcome some of that,” she said.
“The majority of dogs tend to be surrendered as they reach a year old – no longer the cute, cuddly puppy they were when they were acquired the previous Christmas.
“We want to educate and encourage the community towards a more responsible standard of pet ownership, and that includes budgeting for yearly veterinary visits, emergency planning, providing adequate food and living space, time and money to invest in training and enrichment.”
Lorin said that there is much more to owning a pet than it may seem, encouraging those thinking of purchasing a pet as a gift to think twice and ensure the present is not a surprise to the recipient.
“Start by having the conversation early and do not make it a surprise gift,” she said.
“Involve the recipient at every step of the process and spend time doing your research to make sure you purchase the type of animal that would best fit their situation.
“If you go through this process and feel the recipient is truly ready to become a pet owner, then please visit your local shelter or rescue group first to see if you can help to save the life of an abandoned or unwanted animal.”
Before deciding on a pet as a gift this holiday season, you must consider:
- Costs of food, worming, annual health checks, vaccination, desexing, access to veterinary care, veterinarian bills, training, boarding, toys and bedding
- Time available for walking, feeding and playing with the animal each day
- Any restrictions on pets in rented premises
- Checking the Queensland Dog Breeder Register to ensure purchases from a breeder have a valid supply number.
For detailed information on what you need to know before you get a new pet, read more from RSPCA Queensland.