Pets are still being bought on a whim, with little or no prior knowledge or research about their care – or the cost.
“This form of impulse-buying is regrettable with Christmas representing a particularly busy time,” said the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Billy Ashe, pictured here enjoying his own pet, Ty.
A long-term dog owner himself, he added: “This is contributing to some pets being kept inappropriately – perhaps left alone for too long – then becoming stressed, lonely, obese or aggressive – or worse – being abandoned or mistreated.
“Many also don’t consider that pet ownership is considerably more costly than people think,” he added.
This year’s People’s Dispensary Sick Animals (PDSA) Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report revealed the lifetime cost of owning a dog is between £16,000 and £31,000 – depending on the size of the dog and the amount it eats.
The PDSA report said that a ‘want it now’ consumer culture is evident in pet purchasing with over 4.5 million owners doing no research at all before getting a pet.
The Welfare Of Animals Act (NI) 2011 places a ‘duty of care’ for all pet owners to ensure the welfare of their pets and despite that, too many people are continuing to underestimate the financial cost and the importance of choosing the right pet for their lifestyle.
Cllr Ashe said that making such a rash decision can mean that unwanted pets, that are sometimes mistreated, will then be abandoned, ending up as the responsibility of hard-pressed animal welfare charities – or the subject of a prosecution by Council.
“Think long and hard before taking on that ‘cute puppy’ as a rash decision may cause distress and suffering to the animal, and ‘cost’ the owner a lot more than anticipated, in more ways than one,” Cllr Ashe concluded.