A cute kitten sitting under the Christmas tree may sound like a great gift idea, but it can sometimes lead to heartbreak for the animal – and the recipient.
Southern Cross Pet Insurance and the SPCA are urging Kiwis to think twice before giving pets as presents this Christmas.
To start with, ask the recipient first whether they are ready to have a pet in their life and the commitment this entails.
SPCA New Zealand CEO Andrea Midgen urges potential new pet owners (and givers) to think carefully about the long-term implications of caring for a pet.
“Most pets are wholly dependent on their owners for their quality of life, so it is important to ensure you can properly care for your pet and understand its needs.
“It's heart-breaking for both the animal and family if they are forced to give up their new family member because their lifestyle can't accommodate a pet, or they can't afford to look after it.”
Southern Cross Pet Insurance general manager Anthony McPhail agrees.
“When your dog or cat is sick or injured, it's a stressful time. There's no public health system for pets, so you're sometimes confronted with difficult decisions about how much care and treatment you can afford.
“Take one of the dogs on our books for example. She was hit by a car after escaping her dog walker and suffered multiple pelvic and iliac fractures. She had to undergo surgery, costing $23,924.54 in vet bills.
“Owners need to be able to commit to their pets for the life span of the animal – through the good times and the bad. Vet bills aren't the only thing that can be overlooked by a well-meaning gift-giver. Pets need a warm bed, food to fill their bellies, exercise, and a whole lot of love.”
For those who still have their heart set on gifting a pet this Christmas, Andrea points out that, if you have had a conversation with the recipient and they are up for the commitment, adopting from the SPCA is a great way to go.
“For the SPCA, Christmas time means kitten season, so we're preparing for an influx of thousands of animals who need our help.
“When you adopt from the SPCA, your new pet will be vet checked, behaviour tested, de-sexed, vaccinated and microchipped. But, most importantly, our team can help find the right pet for the recipient and their lifestyle.
“Another bonus is that Southern Cross Pet Insurance offers free puppy and kitten cover to pets between 6 and 20 weeks of age on claims up to $1500 worth of vet tests and treatment.”