Sad side of festive season
CHRISTMAS is traditionally a time of joy and happiness but for devout animal lover Sally Rogers of Happy Paws Haven, the festive season brings heartbreaking tales and growing numbers of abandoned animals - many of them unwanted Christmas presents.
And for an adorable fox terrier cross pup whom Sally has christened Barney, the sense of being unwanted is evidentially raw.
Barney is another classic case which Sally sees every year.
Unwanted by a family who received him as a seasonal gift, Barney was surrendered to Happy Paws Haven on December 23.
He spent one short week with his previous family.
"The simple truth is if you can't afford an animal for Christmas don't buy one and don't get one as a surprise present for your friends or family unless you talk to them about it first," Sally said.
"There are so many animals which are abandoned after Christmas because their owners realise they cannot afford to look after them or spend time with them.
"People buy young puppies and kittens because they look little and cute, but they grow up fast and people begin to realise how much work they actually are.
"Pet owners need to be responsible. If you want an animal you must be prepared to look after it and have it desexed, microchipped, vaccinated and wormed."
During the 2011 Christmas season, Happy Paws Haven received three mother cats and two unwanted pups - including Barney.
As 2012 draws closer, Sally is sadly anticipating an influx of more unwanted cats and dogs as kittens and puppies purchased as Christmas presents grow larger and more boisterous.
"Early in the new year and after Australia Day are when the highest number of animals are abandoned because people return to work after their Christmas break and kids go back to school after the holidays," she said.
"Pets become forgotten as other activities become more time consuming and families begin to realise the meaning of pet ownership.
"Happy Paws is already home to a large number of animals who are looking for loving homes and I think it's very sad when so many cats and dogs are dumped because their owners do not want to take responsibility of them.
"Every pet deserves a home."
After being abandoned at the tender age of 12 weeks, Barney's future is now looking a lot brighter thanks to Happy Paws.
He and another unwanted gift, a black Labrador pup, have been given a new chance.
Today young Barney is going to his new home with his new family where he will be loved, treasured and undoubtedly spoiled rotten.
But as Sally admits, there will be hundreds of others like Barney and kittens across the Clarence Valley and throughout Australia who will soon find themselves unwanted by their new owners.