AS CHRISTMAS approaches, the RSPCA Qld Wacol shelter has been overwhelmed with surrendered dogs and puppies.
The festive season was often a busy time for RSPCA shelters, spokesman Michael Beatty said.
"This is our busiest time of the year, with large numbers of people surrendering animals because they haven't planned for kennels or someone to look after their pets if they're going on holidays," Mr Beatty said.
"We have dogs here that people may have got as pets last year, maybe even at Christmas, and now they're here because they've been put in the 'too-hard' basket.
"We have animals from right across the board, and the real reason a lot of them have been surrendered is because people didn't think it (buying a pet) through.
"Often the dogs haven't been trained - if you think about kids asking their parents for a pet and telling them they'll walk it and train it, or even people telling themselves that, and then it doesn't happen, this is the result."
Adoption pens at RSPCA shelters across Queensland are full, and dozens of dogs big and small at the Wacol shelter are pining for families.
Mr Beatty said the extra animals were being cared for by dedicated staff and volunteers, many of whom made time in their own Christmas holidays to offer their time to the shelter.
"When you combine (the extra surrendered animals) with the fact that we already have large numbers of animals looking for homes you can begin to understand the problem," he said.
Mr Beatty said it was a misconception that the RSPCA discouraged people from buying pets at Christmas.
"We actually encourage the responsible buying of pets," he said.
"The Christmas holiday period is an ideal time for the family to bond with their new pet and start training sessions.
"However, we do say that you should never give a pet as a surprise gift and the person who will be looking after the pet must be involved in its selection.
"For a family this obviously means the whole family should be involved."
Because of this, the RSPCA has created special gift vouchers that recipients can redeem in person to choose a pet that suits them.
RSPCA Qld also has a Home Alone program for pet owners at Christmas, which allows owners to register the details of people who are caring for their pets while they're on holiday.
- It costs about $2500 a year to feed, house and care for a medium-sized dog with an expected lifespan of 10 years.
- People need to remember to factor in the cost of vaccinations, medicine and holiday care.
- Last year, 1710 Queensland dogs and puppies were surrendered between November 1 and December 12.
- This year, 1830 dogs and puppies have been surrendered in the same period.
* RSPCA Qld
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