WINDHOEK – The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) advises pet owners it may be better to leave their pets and dogs in the care of responsible people over the festive season.
“People lets live the moment, be happy, laugh and celebrate but do something special for our dogs before going on holiday,” said Joseph Naimhwaka who works as an inspector at the SPCA.
Naimhwaka said around 400 extra dogs and cats came into the SPCA’s care between November and December as there is no other animal shelter at this time of the year when pets are mostly deserted.
“During Christmas, a lot of people go on holidays and boarding pets can be quite expensive. Some people abandon their animals or drop them off at pounds because they can’t take them away with them,” he said.
“Puppies and kittens are given away as Christmas presents to people who can’t look after them. This happens, and especially over Christmas. If you can’t look after pets and dogs then don’t take them at all,” the animal caretaker said.
He said the safest alternative is always to leave your pet in the expert care of a good boarding kennel. However, if friends offer to look after your pet while you are away, make sure it will be welcomed by every member of the household, including any other animals. Also, make sure your pet has an identification tag in case it gets lost. If you are leaving your dog, make sure your friends will give it the exercise it needs.
Your cat may be happier if it is left at home, though not necessarily safer. Make sure a responsible friend will visit twice a day to feed it and give it water but ideally have someone stay in your house while you are away.
He told New Era that as many people celebrate the holiday season, it’s important to keep a pet’s eating and exercise habits as basic as can be. “Buy ordinary quality dog food and give them plenty of fresh clean drinking water. It’s hard to imagine abandoning a pet to a life of no love, no home and hungry,” he said.
As the festive season gains steam everybody will be busy buying sparklers and fireworks but may forget about the traumatic effects the evening could have on dogs.
Naimhwaka said it will be no surprise to learn of the increase of stray dogs as the loud noises associated with fireworks are well known to animals.
“Remember, your friend(s) must be responsible for all aspects of your pet’s welfare.Caged birds, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs can be looked after by a reliable friend and people must remember to leave clear instructions on how to feed them,” he said.
Dog owners are being advised to keep a collar on their dog, just in case they do accidentally escape and they should ensure they are micro-chipped too, so that when they escape without a collar they will be reunited with their pets as quickly as possible.
By Fifi Rhodes