With Christmas fast approaching, Suffolk animal rescue centres warn that pets should never be given as gifts. 

Even though pets are an amazing addition to our lives, their appearance in our home should be a well-thought-out decision, as they will stay with us much longer than the festive period lasts. 

Every parent should ask themselves: what would happen if their child fell out of love as quickly as they fell in love with the new four-legged family member?

Suffolk RSPCA warns that taking on an animal should be carefully considered by the person who is going to be responsible for it as well as the whole family. 

People should be absolutely certain that they are going to be able to provide the animal with time, knowledge, and finances to look after him or her.    

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “There’s a huge amount to consider, from whether you have the time to dedicate to a pet, to the associated costs such as food, pet insurance, toys and bedding, grooming costs, vaccinations, parasite treatment, kennel or dog sitting costs and much more.” 

Charles White, centre manager at Blue Cross in Suffolk, said that the rescue centre ensured that all involved in the care of a pet meet the pet before they are rehomed and understand the responsibilities of the whole family in looking after the pet’s needs. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Charles White, centre manager at Blue Cross with a dog called Gloria who was recently in the care of the Suffolk team, Blue CrossCharles White, centre manager at Blue Cross with a dog called Gloria who was recently in the care of the Suffolk team, Blue Cross (Image: Blue Cross)

Mr White added: “We would urge people to never get a pet for someone as a surprise present because it is a big responsibility, especially during this cost-of-living crisis, as owning a pet can be expensive.  

“Thankfully, this is something we don’t see very often.  

“Taking on a pet during holidays can be a good idea, as the whole family can help a pet settle in. At Christmas time, it really depends on plans for celebrations, as it is better to take on a pet when the home is calm to prevent the pet being overwhelmed if there are visitors and parties planned.” 

The Blue Cross centre manager added that more typical issues observed during the Christmas period are hospital visits after pets have consumed chocolate, mince pies, alcohol or other foods that can be toxic to them.  

East Anglian Daily Times: Gloria and her pups were recently under the care of Blue Cross in Suffolk, Blue CrossGloria and her pups were recently under the care of Blue Cross in Suffolk, Blue Cross (Image: Blue Cross)

However, giving a pet as a Christmas gift is not a good idea. Those who have  thought it through and would like to get a pet should first consider adopting rather than buying. 

The RSPCA is currently experiencing a rehoming crisis  with more animals ending up in its care and staying in rescue centres for longer. There are also fewer people coming forward to adopt.  

The RSPCA spokesperson added: “For those who are in a position to welcome a pet into their lives, we would always recommend rehoming a rescue animal.  

“We encourage people to adopt not shop, so they give an animal in need a much-needed second chance, while also freeing up space in a shelter for another animal to get the care they desperately need. “ 

You can see the animals currently available for adoption on the RSPCA website

Abandonments have soared by nearly a third since 2020. Up to the end of October, the charity had received 17,838 reports of abandoned animals, which, if such trends continue, would equate to 21,417 reports in 2023.  

This compares with 16,118 reports during the whole of 2020, meaning the RSPCA is on course to see an almost 33 per cent rise in abandonment calls this year. 

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “The combined effects of the pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis has created a perfect storm - and means we expect more animals than ever will need our help this year. 
“Our rescue teams are set to be busier than ever this Christmas, so we need animal lovers to join the Christmas rescue and help us be there for animals as neglect and abandonment soars.

"We’re asking supporters to Join the Christmas Rescue by donating to help rescue teams reach the thousands of animals who desperately need them.”