Pets are not cute gifts; they are a lifetime commitment

Puppies bred in puppy farms and bought as impulse gifts often wind up in shelters when the novelty wears offPets have come to play an important part in our lives – in fact many homes in Australia have at least one companion animal. As a member of your family, pets need to be looked after and loved.

Some surveys indicate that over 80% of Australian families have owned a pet at some stage, ranging from dogs (48%), cats (30%), birds (12%), fish (10%), rabbits, guinea pigs and horses to more unusual pets such as ferrets, snakes and reptiles, livestock and native animals. They provide companionship and a sense of responsibility.

However, tens of thousands of unwanted animals are surrendered to animal shelters each year. Many more are abandoned in areas where their likely fate is death by accident, starvation, disease or from predators.

The numbers escalate post-Christmas when the initial excitement of waking up to a bow-wrapped puppy or kitten bouncing around under the tree on Christmas morning is forgotten.

By February, the reality of the caring for a puppy or kitten has kicked in. Many animals end up at animal shelters and if no homes are found for them, through no fault of their own, they are killed.

Choosing a pet for your family is a personal journey and requires a lot of research and preparation. People buy young puppies and kittens because they look little and cute, they all too often forget how much work they actually are.  

Holiday seasons are the prime time for retailers to exploit the emotional bond between people and pets. The increased demand for popular breeds during these time leads to a marked increase in the activity of puppy farms, answering the demand for fast and efficient pet purchasing.

Puppy farming is a cruel industry that places profit ahead of animal welfare. Very often Australians are purchasing dogs in pet stores or online, not knowing they were bred at a puppy farm.

A family pet should never be an impulse purchase based on the emotional frenzy of a holiday season.

Every year, approximately 400,000 dogs and cats are abandoned, with half of them being put down. That number has to be reduced. 

Before making the commitment to buy a pet, IFAW suggests asking yourself two simple questions:

1.       Will the new addition complement our lifestyle?

2.       Do we have the time to commit to the emotional and financial care of our new family member?

By asking these simple questions, we hope that pets will not be seen as commodities that are bought and sold, later abandoned on a whim.


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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project