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Pets are for life!

“If this healthy young animal does not find a home today, it will be sent to a kill shelter.”

All too often that statement is put on social media platforms, in chain email and in desperate appeals to find homes for animals. However, that feeling of wanting to save the animal from a drastic fate is only temporary for many who respond. Daily we hear of animals being returned, dumped or abandoned at welfare shelters after people face the reality and responsibilities that come with owning an animal.

With the holiday season upon us, people decide to “rescue” an animal and give it to a loved one as a present. While we all want to give gifts that are special and meaningful to our friends and family, especially children, a pet is not a gift. Although pets are cute and offer unconditional love, they also require a lifetime commitment from you, the owner!

Many animals are handed in to shelters after the holiday season is over. Many of these animals were given as gifts. Do not dump unwanted pets. Make a plan to reach a welfare shelter and sign the unwanted pet over correctly.

Given the realities of owning an animal, please note there are many other ways to assist our four-legged friends. The Animal Welfare Society of Stellenbosch (AWSS) encourages the public to donate money to the organisation in lieu of a gift or, alternatively, to purchase a gift card at the society. In this way they would be supporting the animals in our care.

For those who have researched and understood the commitments of caring for an animal, and still feel they would like to add a four-legged companion to the family, please visit AWSS and adopt one of the many animals in need of a good home.

If you are already a pet owner, the AWSS is appealing to owners to be vigilant and responsible during the celebrations.

1. Christmas trees can be hazardous to inquisitive pets. Ensure the tree is secure and won’t topple over, put any electrical cables and lights out of reach.

2. Discard any wrapping paper, ribbons, bows and carrier bags, as your pets could easily get entangled and injure themselves.

3. Refrain from letting off firecrackers and be mindful when pulling Christmas crackers and popping champagne corks and balloons.

4. Provide a safe quiet environment for your pet to go to should the celebrations or rowdy visitors become too much.

5. Before sitting back and relaxing after a meal, ensure any leftovers are put away and are out of your pet’s reach. Turkey and chicken bones can splinter and become lodged in your pet’s throat or damage their intestine. Keep alcohol out of reach. Don’t be tempted to change your pet’s regular feeding habits or overfeed them, as diet changes can cause digestive upsets.

6. Should you wish to spoil your pet, rather choose to purchase a toy or treats that are provided by a reputable vet shop.

7. In the event that your pet breaks free from your premises, ensure they are micro-chipped and have a means of identification.

8. Last but not least, when on your travels, never leave your pets in the car, especially not during the hot summer months.

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