Adorable puppies and kittens might be at the top of many Christmas wishlists, but Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) is advising residents to think about the long-term commitment required to keep a pet throughout the year.
TRC Environmental Health portfolio leader Cr Joe Ramia said residents who were preparing to give a pet as a gift should ensure the person receiving the gift was prepared for the responsibility of caring for a new animal.
"Pets make wonderful Christmas gifts, but looking after new animals extends well beyond the festive season,” Cr Ramia said.
“Cats and dogs are a long-term responsibility; sometimes up to 14 years or longer.
“The first day is full of fun and excitement for everyone in the family. The first weeks are filled with play, cuddles, walks, puppy school and more. Then the excitement starts to wear off.
“The kids go back to school, you're back at work, the pet is growing very quickly and is left home. The three months after Christmas are some of the busiest for animal refuges receiving unwanted pets that had been given as gifts.
"If you're considering giving someone a pet for Christmas please make sure you involve them in the process, don't make it a surprise.
“If you are committed to owning a pet, please consider purchasing a pet from the RSPCA. These animals are thoroughly health checked by a vet, desexed, microchipped, vaccinated and have been temperament tested.
“Perhaps giving a collar or grooming pack as a promise of a pet might be a better way to ease into owning a pet. The new pet owner can take some time to research what breed or type of pet will best suit them.
"Pets rely on their owners for everything from food, health care, exercise and shelter, to love and interaction, so it's important to make sure the recipient of the gift is prepared for the financial and time commitment required.
"It's also important to make sure that they have the appropriate set up at home to properly care for the pet such as suitable fencing and housing.”
Cr Ramia also called on pet owners to make sure their pets were kennelled or well cared for if they were considering a trip away during the Christmas break.
"If you go away, make sure that your pet is cared for in your absence, and take extra care to keep it hydrated on hot days,” he said.
“Animals can become agitated and scared during storms and parties. Make sure your pet has a safe, secure and quiet place to be housed if there is the likelihood of loud noises like music or thunder.
Dog registration and pet microchipping are mandatory
“Registering your dog is not only mandatory, but it will also make sure you are re-united as soon as possible if you are separated. Registration can be completed online or at a service centre.
“Micro-chipping cats and dogs is mandatory and provides an additional safeguard in the event a valued family pet goes missing.”
Cr Ramia said Council also recognised the benefits a new puppy could bring to a home by offering a ‘puppy’s first registration’ discount for the first registration year, which currently represented a saving of $68 compared with the fee for an entire dog. Registration discounts also apply to obedience trained dogs that have been assessed by the Toowoomba Dog Obedience Club.
“New owners are encouraged to put the registration savings toward the cost of desexing their pet. This allows owners to take advantage of the reduced registration fee for desexed animals,” Cr Ramia said.
Checking on missing animals
Council’s Animal Management officers impound lost or wandering animals to ensure the animals are not harmed or do not cause any other public nuisance.
Council has an online impoundment register which allows residents to search for a lost pet. Council also lists the websites of other rescue agencies.
If an animal is not claimed after a minimum of three full working days from the date of impoundment for unidentified animals (no identifying tag or not microchipped) or five full working days from the date of impoundment for identified animals, Council will attempt to rehouse the animal with an approved welfare agency.
Residents can contact Council, including after hours on 131 872, to report dog attacks or wandering livestock.
To find out more about responsible pet ownership, including registration and micro-chipping, visit www.tr.qld.gov.au/dogrego