CHRISTMAS is a great time, but not if you are an unwanted pet.
Warrnambool RSPCA shelter manager Tracey Scott said the week before Christmas had followed the tradition of being the shelter’s busiest time of year, with people bringing in unwanted pets.
Ms Scott said many brought in animals — cats in particular — because they were going away for the festive season or because they were getting another animal for Christmas to replace the one they had.
She said a large number of receivals this week had pushed the shelter’s capacity to accommodate cats to the limit, with 120 cats and kittens presently in residence.
The shelter also had 40 dogs and other animals, including rabbits and guinea pigs.
She urged people buying a pet for someone as a Christmas present to take the recipient with them to help choose the animal and to make sure the recipient was aware that pet ownership was a lifetime responsibility.
With the weather warming up, pet owners should also ensure their animals had shelter, lots of clean water and were not left in cars.
During New Year’s Eve fireworks, pets should be kept in a place they cannot flee from and be microchipped so they can be identified and returned to owners if they run off.
Meanwhile, people who are financially disadvantaged in Portland and Warrnambool will be able to get discounted or free desexing or microchipping of their cats.
Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said the services would be provided by the RSPCA animal shelters in Warrnambool and Portland with money provided by the state government’s Animal Welfare Fund.
“As a vet, I know it is very important that we ensure local animals are protected from neglect and abuse and ensure we don’t have any unwanted kittens who could be dumped in the bush and become feral cats targeting native wildlife,” Dr Napthine said. “It is estimated there are 500,000 homeless cats in Victoria.
“These cats live a life of deprivation, often carry diseases and suffer as a direct result of indiscriminate breeding.”
Desexing reduces the number of unwanted litters born and microchipping helps lost cats be reunited with their owners.
“I would encourage anyone who might receive a kitten or cat for Christmas to talk to their local vet or the RSPCA about having the animal desexed and microchipped as soon as possible.”