No pets!

by Kimberley Cummins

Think again!

That was the advice to persons planning on giving pets as gifts this Christmas; but particularly parents thinking of giving one to a child.

Vice President of the Ark Animal Shelter, Liz Cole, in an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning described this trend as a “very bad” idea. She said that each year parents chooses to give their children puppies as a present, too often unaware of the responsibilities that must accompany the gift.

Then when the dogs become too much trouble for them, they simply drive into the country and drop them off.

“It happens every year … People…, come December, they throw out all their old dogs, their old everything and then they will get some puppies and in January they will be dumped on the road somewhere in the country for us to pick up and look after them again.

“If you adopt a pet it is for that pet’s lifetime — it is not ’til it’s convenient to dump it at the side of the road. I don’t know what is wrong with Barbadians, they just do not have any idea how to deal with animals. They are uneducated when it comes to animals and they are very irresponsible. I think the children have to be educated about dogs before you just pick up a dog and give to a child,” she said.

Volunteer at the shelter, Jennifer Pequeneza, also agreed. She said that because of the influx of dogs in January the policy at Ark was not to adopt out animals in December, unless there was prior negotiations. She said that too people gave pets as gifts at Christmas unaware of such basic things such as if the recipient was allergic or even interested in having a pet. She said if people were really interested in adopting a pet they could wait until the new year.

“I think it is a bad time because unless you can really afford it, let’s face it, times are really tough right now and people are having a hard time putting food on the table for their children so they have to remember that a dog still needs to be fed, it still needs to be looked after and if anything happens they have to take it to a vet. So you really have to think, ‘Can I afford to have a dog?’.

“I give freely of my time to help these dogs because I see them roaming out here and I see the way people treat them and I see these dogs when they come in here how badly scarred they are and how they’ve been chained and starved or left in a field tied up, and this is why I give my time with the rest of the volunteers to take care of these dogs and hopefully find brand new homes for them.

“So come in the new year because you can bet your bottom dollar that Old Year’s night with all the fireworks, there will be at least 200 dogs running loose on the island that broke out of their places because they are absolutely scared of the noise. Half of those dogs will never get back to their owners so our shelter is going to be absolutely bulging with all kinds of dogs up for adoption and anybody wanting to come and get one in January will probably have the pick of the crop,” Pequeneza said.

Cole also advised that if a person, after careful thought, found that they were not ready for the responsibility of owning a pet there was a programme at the shelter where animal lovers could still sponsor one of the many dogs housed there.†

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