A pet is for life not just for Christmas, say RSPCA staff following a surge in the number of animals abandoned over December.
Dogs and cats dumped to make way for new ones or animals becoming an inconvenience over the busy festive period are just some of the reasons why owners may choose to neglect their pets.
The centre on Spital Lane, Chesterfield, has been inundated with unwanted animals - and more than 50 were admitted last month alone.
Gary Taylor, animal care manager at the Chesterfield and North Derbyshire branch, said: “Christmas is typically a hectic time for us as we deal with many animals which have been abandoned, neglected or become unwanted for various reasons.”
He added: “We feel during Christmas, especially as people become busy and pre-occupied with the festive season, some animals can become a problem for their owners.
“This can then lead to pets becoming an inconvenience, impacting on people’s finances and generally becoming less of a priority for their owners. “It is often at this stage we are contacted by the owner asking for help or the animal can become abandoned, stray or neglected.”
The centre, which is currently undergoing a major rebuild project so it can care for more abandoned animals, is also coping with an increase in unwanted rabbits.
Gary said: “Over the winter months, rabbit re-homing has been particularly slow. A high proportion of the animals looking for homes at the moment are rabbits.
“Rabbits can make fantastic indoor pets too with many people developing a more deeper and rewarding relationship with a pet rabbit kept indoors providing it is right for the individual rabbit.
“One reason for this is that we tend to spend more time with our pets if they are in the warmth of our homes than if we keep them in the garden. Increasingly people are moving their rabbits into the home to improve their relationship whilst potentially also increasing the rabbits’ health and mental wellbeing.”
He added: “The RSPCA Chesterfield Animal Centre promotes responsible pet ownership and we would encourage anyone who is thinking of becoming a pet owner to make sure they are in a position to give the pet of their choice a loving, permanent home where it will live a happy and healthy life.”
The centre is opening for animal viewing from Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 4pm.