Northern Ireland news

Animal charity USPCA urges public to 'think twice' before buying pets as a Christmas present

THE PUBLIC has been urged to "think twice" before buying a pet as a present this Christmas.

The USPCA is advising any potential pet owner to ensure they can provide for the animal's care and veterinary needs throughout its lifetime.

The animal welfare charity said there was a rise in pet ownership during the Covid pandemic, and while many people benefited through love and companionship, many dogs and cats were later given up due to unforeseen circumstances.

USPCA animal care and rehoming manager Deirdre McArdle said there had also been an increase in enquiries from people considering giving up their pet due to the cost-of-living crisis.

“For the USPCA, every year we see a Christmas demand for puppies and kittens and our message is clearer than ever, please do not make this life changing decision on a whim," she said.

"An animal is not a toy or a present, it does not come with a gift receipt."

Ms McArdle highlighted how animal charities were already inundated and that "impulse buys" at Christmas only add to the strain.

The USPCA recommends those who are seriously considering getting a pet to wait until after Christmas and then adopt from one of the many rescue centres and shelters across the north.

The charity is also warning the public to beware of what it terms the "cruel puppy trade" and to avoid illegal breeders at all costs.

"Illegal breeders are motivated by one thing and one thing only – greed – they have no concerns for the welfare of your potential pup," Ms McAradle said.

“The conditions in which these pups are raised are appalling, from overbred bitches, used and abused for profit, to the cramped and disease-ridden enclosures – no matter the temptation, please do not engage with these individuals."

Northern Ireland news