Pets are for life, not just for Christmas. We’ve all heard it so many times, yet every year after Christmas we still see an influx of unwanted animals come into rescue which were bought as presents.
This Christmas every rescue in the country is struggling with the huge number of animals bought in lockdown which are now being handed to shelters. This includes dogs, cats and small animals, who appear to have been the worst affected in terms of the sheer numbers of them being abandoned now. Some pet shops and breeders were cashing in while the demand for animals was so high during lockdowns and now it’s the rescue centres who are dealing with the fallout, as we always knew would be the case. We have a really long waiting list for rabbits and guinea pigs waiting to come in – please please don’t add to this list in the new year by buying pets as presents at Christmas.
Small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and rats are often touted as being “easy starter pets” when in reality they are nothing of the sort. There is no such thing as an easy pet for children. All of the small animal species have complex care needs, and a huge commitment of time and money is needed to care for them properly. They are mainly prey species who don’t take well to being held and cuddled and they have sharp teeth and claws – children so often lose interest when they realise their new pet is not the cuddly creature they expected it to be.
We would urge the parents of any children who are asking for pets to thoroughly research the species first so you know what you are letting yourself in for. Sooner or later, in most cases children will lose interest in their pets and after that it’s the parents’ responsibility to ensure all of the pets’ welfare needs are met, for the rest of the pets’ natural lives.
If you are thinking of adding any new pet to your family, we’ve created some handy care guides for rabbits, guinea pigs and rats, which you can download for free and will give you more of an idea of what you’re taking on first.
Thank you for reading, and a very happy Christmas from everyone at Animals in Distress.