The Scottish SPCA has banned accepting pets this Christmas to try and stop owners giving up elderly animals, writes Kenny Paterson.
The charity says it has been forced into the move after hearing a number of excuses from people handing over pets to its animal rescue and rehoming centre staff across Scotland.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said: “The excuses our staff have heard have been shocking, with some owners telling us they have suddenly developed an allergy to a pet they’ve had for years.
“Others have said they’ve simply had enough of their pet because it’s so old and some have even told us they don’t want their dog making their house untidy when they have guests for Christmas.
“We know that in some of these cases the owners have, in fact, been making space for a new puppy or a younger pet, which is disgusting and extremely callous.
“Our centres will stop rehoming young animals between December 20 and January 3 because we have to be very careful they aren’t being taken on by anyone who wants a new pet for Christmas and hasn’t fully thought through their decision.
“Taking on a pet is a commitment for that animal’s lifetime and new owners should ensure they have the time and resources they need and understand their responsibilities.”
Chief Supt Flynn also discouraged people giving pets as Christmas presents to friends and family.
He added: “It’s another upsetting reality that in the weeks and months after Christmas our centres are often asked to take in puppies, kittens and other pets given as presents once the novelty has worn off. Or, even worse, some of these pets are abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
“Clearly, in these instances the owners hadn’t realised that the young pet which was great fun at Christmas would need to be housetrained and properly socialised and that this would require effort on their part.
“Our message is pets are a long-term commitment and responsibility, not presents which can be given on Christmas Day and forgotten about soon afterwards.”
In one of its most shocking Festive incidents, the Scottish SPCA say it found an elderly dog named Winter left for dead after being dumped on a remote country road on Christmas Day last year.
Chief Supt Flynn added: “It’s almost unthinkable that someone would do something so cruel.
“Winter could easily have been knocked down and killed, and it was clear that whoever did this didn’t care what happened to him.”