Norfolk animal sanctuary full as owners abandon pets
PUBLISHED: 09:21 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:18 20 February 2019
Animal sanctuaries may be bursting at the seams right now, but it seems the message may have been getting through when it comes to giving pets as festive presents.
“A dog is for life, not just for Christmas,” the Dog Trust’s famous slogan, has become such a familiar refrain that the number of dogs given up for rehoming at its Snetterton centre has now decreased in the months following Christmas.
This pattern is repeated in other sanctuaries too. At RSPCA’s independent West Norfolk rehoming centre in King’s Lynn, new manager Penny Jackson Smith said animal owners are making more thoughtful choices about when to buy new pets.
She said: “I don’t think it’s as much of a problem now. We are now able to take animals in again but before we were absolutely jam-packed. They are nearly all down to changes in the circumstances of the owners like having to moved to a rental property.
“It used to be an issue but now I think the message has come across.”
But at PACT animal sanctuary in Hingham, office manager Jo Stratton said: “We normally see an influx of Christmas present pets more in June or July, which is when they start being a bit naughty and people have tried to go on holiday.
“Before Christmas it’s the older animals. It tends to be eight or nine-month-old cats and dogs given in the summer, when they haven’t been trained and the kennel fees are high.
“Our waiting lists are groaning, people are shocked. Recently we had to turn away five dogs, knowing they were going to be put to sleep. It is hard because it’s like you’re playing god.
“We’re supposed to be a nation of animal lovers, I think we’re a nation of people that just disregard and discard. I think animals are now seen as a commodity and not as a life.
“When children don’t want their new pets anymore I say to the parents, what are you actually teaching your children? You’re teaching them that life doesn’t matter, and I say they need to be responsible for that.”
The RSPCA sees calls about dumped animals soar by 50pc in summertime. It advises that pets should not be given as presents unless it is known that the person receiving the pet is willing to take on the responsibility and can afford to do so.