Puppies and kittens not always the purrfect Christmas present

Wednesday , 14 December 2016 by Alistair Gray

Surprising your loved one with a pet at Christmas may seem like a good idea, but it doesn’t always end well for the animal. Every January, animal shelters deal with abandoned pets that are unwanted Christmas presents, as many new owners find they aren’t prepared for the commitment that comes with responsible pet ownership.

The SPCA, together with Southern Cross Pet Insurance, are calling for New Zealanders to stop giving pets as Christmas gifts, without checking with the recipient first.

SPCA New Zealand CEO Andrea Midgen says: “Pets require time, money, care and lots of love, and animal owners need to be fully committed to this for the animal’s whole life. If you have had a conversation with the recipient and they are ready to take on this responsibility, then adopting a pet from the SPCA is a great way to go.

“Adopting from the SPCA means your pet will be healthy and behaviour tested, along with being desexed and microchipped. But, most importantly, our team will be able to match your family to the perfect pet for your needs and lifestyle.”

Southern Cross Pet Insurance’s Anthony McPhail says pets bring joy to their owners’ lives, but it’s easy to underestimate what’s involved with looking after a pet.

“A surprise puppy or kitten might seem like a good gift idea, but owners need to be prepared to look after pets for the animal’s entire life.

“We know from our research that one third of pet owners find it hard to care for their pets and struggle to pay vet bills.

“More than half of New Zealand pet owners could not afford to spend more than $1,000 caring for a sick or injured animal, whereas we know it’s common for vet bills to exceed $1,000 – and that’s not factoring in the rest of the costs that come with responsible pet ownership.

“The cost of pet ownership goes beyond just vet bills and extends to paying for food, de-sexing, dog registration, and ideally pet insurance, through to bedding, toys, shelter, and grooming expenses.”

Ms Midgen does point out that if people have done their homework and understand the responsibility that comes with pet ownership, adopting over the new year period is an ideal time.

“Summer is the perfect time to add a furry friend to your home, as people typically have more time to spend with them, can help them settle into their new environment, and get used to a daily routine,” says Ms Midgen.

For those looking to adopt a pet from the SPCA this summer, Southern Cross Pet Insurance offers free puppy and kitten cover to pets between 6 and 20 weeks of age on claims up to $1,500 worth of vet tests and treatment. All pets from the SPCA are health and temperament checked, desexed, microchipped and vaccinated.

Research from Southern Cross Pet Insurance shows:

Do you find it hard to pay for vet bills?

Do you find it hard to pay for vet bills?   
 Yes  32%
 No  64%
 Rather not say  4%

How much could you afford to spend caring for a sick or injured pet?

How much could you afford to spend caring for a sick or injured pet?  
 Up to $500 35% 
 $501 to $1000  20%
 $1001 to $1500  10%
 $1500 to $3000  11%
 $3001 to $5000  4%
 More than 45000  8%
 Rather not say  11%