The Christmas gift you shouldn’t buy

“Puppies are a lifetime commitment” says dog trainer Helen.

Animal lovers are being urged to think twice before getting a puppy or dog as a Christmas present.

Dog trainer Helen Perryman, who runs Just Dogs South West in Feniton, took some time out to talk to the Midweek Herald about the importance of thinking it through before embarking on a “lifetime commitment”.

“Buying dogs for children as Christmas presents is a definite no-no - mainly because, like with toys, children can get bored with them very quickly.

“After Christmas we get requests for rehoming dogs when it has not worked out as a Christmas present.”

Helen says it is important for people to consider whether their lifestyle and living environment is suitable, as well as their financial situation and the type of dog.

“If you are going to get a puppy or a dog, make sure you can provide them with a home for life. There is a lot of work involved in bringing up a nice, sociable dog and it does take up a lot of time and effort - puppies don’t come automated.

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“Getting a dog is a lifetime commitment.”

“It isn’t just dogs - no animal should be bought as a Christmas present and should be purchased with great thought.”

Welfare charity Dogs Trust said it can expect around 100 dogs a year to come into its rehoming centres over the Christmas period, but say the majority of handovers or abandonments occur around Easter when the puppies have grown up or become too difficult to handle.

The latest figures released by the charity for the Westcountry showed a dramatic 47 per cent rise in the number of stray dogs collected by local authorities, up from 2,938 dogs in 2010 to 4,346 dogs in 2011.

The number of stray dogs put to sleep in the region also increased to 82 this year.

The survey revealed that the number of stray and abandoned dogs is at an 11 year high with more than 126,176 dogs being picked up by local authorities across the UK.

Dogs Trust chief executive Clarissa Baldwin OBE said: “For over 33 years we have been saying that ‘A Dog is For Life, Not Just for Christmas’, yet it is worrying that so many children and their parents still consider a puppy as a suitable present and want to pop a pooch under the Christmas tree.

“Dogs are not disposable “gifts”, they are living creatures who deserve a home for life.

“So, this year, as every year, we are asking the public to think about the responsibilities involved in owning a dog.”