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Are you planning to give a pet to somebody for Christmas?  Think carefully, says The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Tshwane (Tshwane SPCA), which received hundreds of unwanted pets after Christmas last year.

Surely you have passed a pet shop window or the flea market stall and little furry faces and blue eyes stare at you, your heart melts and the thought comes to mind to buy this bundle of joy for a relative or a friend as a Christmas gift.

If you plan to give your child or loved one a cute puppy or kitten for Christmas, think again.  The receiver might be allergic to pet hair, or the complex does not allow pets.  None of your friends are interested, they already have enough and can’t take on another one.  The pet shop won’t take it back, because they have too many.  So what do you do with the animal?

The Tshwane SPCA urges the public not to give pets as gifts, since it is not fair to either the animal or the receiver.  To accept such an animal has long-term implications and it is important that the receiver be informed about the responsibilities. These gifts usually end up at the SPCA shortly after Christmas without the owners ever loving or attending on them. Animals are living creatures and require life long care.

Giving an animal is not giving a box of chocolates or a bottle of bubble bath.  All too often this is how many puppies and kittens find their way into the SPCA. Prospective pet owners, who really want to adopt a pet, should personally go and adopt an animal from one of our branches instead.  The owner needs to have an affinity and a bond with the animal and part of that is developed in choosing the animal.

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Prospective owners should be pet wise – make sure that you do your homework first: Decide on the pet you want.  Read up on it; be informed when you finally decide – don’t be impulsive. It is not fair on you and, least of all on the innocent victim the animal.

Pet owners should furthermore be prepared to form a lifelong partnership with the pet and be prepared for the financial outlay in taking care of their pet.  For instance when buying a puppy or kitten, there needs to be given consideration to whether the pet has been vaccinated or dewormed, that it would need follow up vaccinations and deworming.  A puppy will also go through developmental stages that involve chewing, housetraining and specialised feeding.  A dog has a life span of between 14 to 16 years and can be seen as a long term commitment.  As a pet owner you must spend enough time with your pet and your home should be suitable for it. Animals need kind human interaction and socialisation, apart from adequate shelter, good nutrition and water.

Safeguard yourself against fraudsters selling poorly developed pets that are prone to disease. When you finally decide to adopt a pet, support your nearest SPCA branch.  Adopting a pet from the Tshwane SPCA has various advantages; the Adoption fee (R740.00 for adult dogs; R880.00 for puppies & kittens, and R540.00 for adult cats) includes sterilisation of the pet, inplant of a micro chip, deworming and the first vaccination.

The Tshwane SPCA also does a pre-home check to ensure that the animal will get a loving and caring home and that it will be safe in its new environment.  Afterwards a post-home check is done to ensure that the animal has adapted in its new environment. When adopting a pet, you also enter into a binding contract with the SPCA.

This time of the year, unwanted and neglected pets end up at the SPCA or, even worse, as lonely creatures in backyards or dropped off on highways. The Tshwane SPCA strongly opposes the giving of animals as gifts.  When people get bored with their gifts, they throw them out!

The Tshwane SPCA appeals to the public not to give pets as gifts this Christmas!

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