In the Australian city of Melbourne, there has been an alarming new trend circulating because of the holiday season. Families are actually abandoning their pets in order to try and avoid spending money on proper kennel boarding while the family travels for Christmas. Naturally, the practice is sparking outrage, as many responsible pet owners and other animal lovers are pointing out the problems it is causing for local shelters.
Vice-president of the Australian Animal Protection Society, Sue Thompson, told the Australian publication The Age that people are turning their pets loose, hoping they’ll be picked up and brought to a shelter for care. Worse yet? Some of them will actually attempt to bring their dog home from the shelter after they return to Melbourne after vacation. This practice obviously isn’t a practice that shelters will entertain.
“Quite often people go overseas for Christmas holidays and because it costs so much for kennels, they would prefer to get rid of them,” Thompson said.
“They ring when they are back from holidays and ask if they can adopt their own pet back. We would never allow that,” she added.
Shelters in the area have already seen a steady increase in both intakes as well as surrenders by owners as the holiday season progresses. With shelter numbers rising, there is a huge strain being put on the system. Thompson reprimands those who don’t factor in their pets to their holiday plans. As Thompson stated, boarding kennels and catteries “may be expensive, but they should be included in the Christmas plan.”
Of course, for those who think they can cheat the system, they’ll be surprised to find out that it’s not that simple, as council rangers in Melbourne do enforce certain fees when a public shelter takes in and boards a family pet. Those fees easily can be as expensive as those charged by a boarding kennel. There really isn’t a way around paying for proper care for pets, but the false belief that there is just makes everything more difficult and frustrating for those working in animal welfare.
When dogs are found in Melbourne, they are taken to the council pound within the Lost Dogs Home, and the fees charged are $65 for the first day. After that, it’s $15 per day. And before any dog can be released back to its family, these fees must be paid in full – and additionally, the dog must be microchipped and registered with the council.
This careless trend is being compared on the same level as those people who gift pets as Christmas presents only for the poor animals to end up returned or abandoned shortly after the end of the holidays. So, let’s all say this together: PETS ARE NOT DISPOSABLE. They’re not the same as the ugly sweater you got from your cousin, they’re a life-long commitment and responsibility – treat them as such!