All posts by Louth SPCA

Why Puppies As Christmas Gifts Are A Bad Idea

Surprising your son, daughter, friend, or relative with a pet as a present may seem thoughtful, but it typically doesn’t end well for the cat, dog or other critter. Thousands of them are surrendered to animal shelters by March, some as soon as the first of the New Year simply because families or new owners weren’t prepared for the care and responsibility.

Here are a few reasons why giving pets as surprise Christmas gifts, or any kind of gift, is a bad idea.

Pets and Pet Owners need a Relationship

It’s pretty well known or accepted that the bond between pet and pet owner needs to be very strong and present right from the beginning. You can’t go out and pick just any dog or cat.

It is also tough to build that relationship during such a busy time of year. The surprise pet is already stressed at having been moved, of being introduced to a totally new environment from the pet store or family or shelter that he’s been used to, and really needs a quiet, calm environment. This quieter, calmer time is also necessary for pets and pet owners to establish a routine. With the chaos surrounding the whole holiday season, pets are often neglected.

Plus kids can be unreliable; kids change quickly. You know this! The puppy melts their hearts for a few days or weeks only. But then it needs to be walked every day (in the rain). It needs careful attention to its feeding and eliminating if it’s going to be housebroken effectively. It needs to be taught not to jump on people. The kids oohing and aahing under the tree will very soon move on to Facebook and texting their friends and ignoring the poor wee creature.

Pets Require Time, Money and Responsibility

Pets should not be surprise gifts because, particularly for new pet owners, some families are completely unprepared and overwhelmed by the care and expense that a new pet requires. Puppies and kittens especially, but adult dogs, too.

Typically, the larger the dog, the larger the expense for vet care and dog food and the bigger the clean-up both in-house and outside.

Everything that the animal needs to be properly cared for should be discussed and planned well in advance, including the kind and size of dog that best suits families’ individual home situations. Preparation includes realizing how decorations, foods and business at Christmas time can be frightening to animals.

Many parents don’t consider that 2 weeks later the kids are back to school and the puppy still needs walks and plenty of attention (or else it starts chewing things – all sorts of things!). Realistically, it will be YOU looking after this creature, if you think it will be looked after by the children once Christmas is over, you are fooling yourself.

Pet-friendly Alternatives

One alternative is to buy the pet supplies for Christmas and leave choosing the puppy or kitten or whatever, until after things have settled down. If they still want a puppy come the new year, and are willing to take responsibility for it, then maybe it is something that could happen for their birthday.

Pigmy Goats

Just a post to show how here at the Louth SPCA we never know what we are going to get next! These two Pigmy Goats were recently abandoned. They are wee devils that jump over EVERYTHING and bounce around a lot. Getting used to being handled… slowly.

They have had offers of homes already. We will be doing homechecks and making sure everything  is in order for them.

Christmas comes early at the kennels

Thanks to the Giving Team at PayPal we received a grant earlier
this year than before… and it was put to good use! We have at last gone from a rickety gate and messy yard like in the picture below, to a nice entrance and level surface you can actually walk across.

When it rained, it was embarrassing to say the least as people had to dodge the puddles to get to see the animals! Also for the volunteers welly boots were a must, even in the summer. Now we have a new driveway just in time for this year’s bad weather.

Christmas has come early for us at kennels!

IPAAG reminds the public to beware of the pitfalls in responding to online ads for puppies

As Christmas approaches and the demand for puppies’ increases, the Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) is reminding potential buyers to beware of the pitfalls of responding to online advertisements for puppies and other pets to ensure that they ask the right questions to avoid falling victim to rogue breeders, who put profits before animal welfare.


In 2015, leading animal welfare organisations (ISPCA, Dogs Trust, IHWT, Donkey Sanctuary, Irish Blue Cross and MADRA) along with representatives from the veterinary profession and websites advertising pets for sale joined forces to develop a set of minimum standards for websites to help protect the welfare of animals that are advertised online and ensure that any illegal activity is identified and investigated.

IPAAG has been targeting unscrupulous breeders by reporting inappropriate online adverts in breach of the IPAAG minimum standards where they were acting illegally and compromising the welfare of innocent animals to make a quick profit.

Since its launch, IPAAG has used Google Ads to educate people searching for pets being advertised online.  As a result over one million impressions and 22,485 clicks to the IPAAG website was reached specifically targeting people who were looking to source a pet online, but may not be aware of the risks or how to protect themselves from unscrupulous breeders. This highlights that people do want advice prior to getting a puppy, however they may not have thought to seek it or known where to go prior to seeing the IPAAG advertisements.

IPAAG Chairman Dr Andrew Kelly said:  “We would always encourage prospective pet owners to consider adopting an animal from a reputable rescue organisation. However, we recognise that people will often turn to their computers when looking to buy or sell almost anything and whether we like it or not that includes pets. Animal welfare organisations regularly hear from people who have sourced a pet online only for it to fall sick and in some cases die soon after, which is awful for the animal concerned and heart breaking for the owners. Anyone looking to get a new pet should follow the IPAAG check list to avoid the pit falls of becoming a victim of unscrupulous breeders. Some websites, such as Done Deal are very cooperative, are complying with the minimum standards and do report adverts of concern to the appropriate authorities, but others are less cooperative. I would also like to remind people to never give a puppy or any other animal as a surprise gift at Christmas or any other time of the year.”

IPAAG is urging anyone thinking of getting a new pet to carefully research where your new pet has originated from and to be aware of unscrupulous breeders who are putting profits before animal welfare. Getting a pet on impulse poses an enormous risk and to avoid unintentionally obtaining a pet from a rogue breeder, it is also important that you consider the long term commitment and financial resources required before taking on a new addition to the family.

Following on from the success of PAAG in the UK and IPAAG in Ireland, Blue Cross have developed EU PAAG through the EU Dog and Cat Alliance https://www.dogandcatwelfare.eu/about/ ; that provides a template for other EU Member States to develop a PAAG of their own. As a result, BelgPAAG has been set up in Belgium and five other member states are in the process of setting up PAAGs.

IPAAG check list:

  • Have you considered adopting a pet from a local rescue centre first?
  • If you have decided to go online to source a pet, ensure the website has signed up to the IPAAG minimum advertising standards.  Visit http://www.ipaag.ie for more information, tips and advice.
  • Different breeds have different requirements and temperaments. Research is important to ensure your new pet is suitable for your family and lifestyle.
  • If you have already completed your research, ask your vet to recommend a reputable breeder or contact the IKC (Irish Kennel Club) for advice if you are looking to get a pet.
  • Always ask to see mum and puppy interacting with each other and be concerned if you can’t.
  • Are the facilities clean and does the litter of puppies appear to be alert and healthy?  You should be able to handle the puppies freely under supervision.
  • Ensure any new pet is old enough to leave its mother – puppies need to be at least 8 weeks old.
  • Ask the breeder if they are registered under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act 2010. If the answer is yes, ask to see the certificate issued by the Local Authority.
  • Microchipping is a legal requirement for all dogs and puppies once they are 12 weeks old. A puppy must be microchipped and the ownership transferred if applicable, even if this is before 12 weeks. It is very important that the change of ownership form is complete and the buyer must produce ID and proof of address to the seller.
  • Always ask for a copy of the veterinary records such as the vaccination certificate, microchipping details and treatment record for parasites. If you are unsure about it, speak to your local vet.
  • For pedigree puppies, check that the Irish Kennel Club registration papers and the parents’ hereditary disease screening certificates, where appropriate, are in order.
  • If you suspect a puppy has come from a commercial breeding establishment, please don’t take it out of pity.  You may think you are saving a puppy but you will be fuelling the puppy farm trade demand.
  • If in doubt, walk away and visit a reputable rescue centre
  • Wild or exotic species have specific needs and are for specialists. Is it dangerous, wild, or even endangered? Check it will make a suitable pet.

Keeping pets safe at Hallowe’en

Unfortunately Hallowe’en and the days and weeks preceding it can be a very distressing time for animals. The Louth SPCA would like to remind owners to be especially vigilant about their pets at this time of year. Many dogs and cats are either harmed or run away in fright over the next week, quite often ending up dead on the busy and dark roads!

Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe.

  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day. Once it starts getting dark, fireworks become more frequent.
  • Keep your dogs INSIDE during fireworks, preferably with human companionship. Bringing your dogs out during fireworks is never a good idea. Do NOT leave your dog in the back yard this week at all!
  • Provide a safe place inside for your dogs to retreat. When scared of sounds they can’t orient, dogs often prefer small enclosed areas. If your dog is comfortable in a crate, that is a good option. If you dog or cat likes scurrying in behind the sofa, put a blanket in there for them.
  • If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed. Covering the crate with a blanker or lowering the blinds can also be helpful. Removing visual stimulation can also help calm dogs.
  • Make sure all your dogs are wearing ID tags with a properly fitting collar. If you your dog is not microchipped, they really should be! In fact, it’s now the law in Ireland.
  • Give your dog something fun and distracting to do – like a frozen Kong filled with his favorite treats, or a big chewy pig’s ear that will keep him busy for a good while.
  • If you MUST go out, leave the TV or radio on louder than usual to muffle the sound of fireworks outside.

hearing-callout3

As well as keeping them safe from fireworks, remember there are other hazards at this time of year for pets. Here are some do’s and dont’s:

  • DON’T leave animals in a room with lit candles or pumpkins. Dogs can have lethal tails, wagging all over the place. Make sure that lighted candles are kept where they cannot be knocked over by a wagging tail or by a curious cat. Not only could your pet start a fire, but they could severely burn themselves in the process.
  • DON’T dress animals up in costumes as many pets find this uncomfortable and stressful. It’s cute, be it’s also dangerous!
  • DON’T take pets trick-or-treating. Dogs can become very distressed and confused by all the noise and activity with strange smells, costumes and loud bangs from fireworks.
  • DON’T let animals near bonfires, candles or other dangerous items.
  • DO make sure that rabbits and other caged animals are safely secured in a garage or outbuilding, away from the sight and sound of fireworks. As an alternative, the cage can be covered with thick fabric to muffle the sound, making sure there is sufficient ventilation. Horses should be securely stabled or moved to a different location during fireworks displays in the area.
  • DO keep pets away from Halloween decorations and tell children not to share any sweets and chocolate with their pets. Chocolate is very bad for pets.
  • DO take a pet suspected of ingesting a harmful item or substance immediately to a veterinarian.
  • DON’T ignore animals in need. Report animal abuse and neglect immediately to An Gardai Siochana or contact the Louth SPCA at 042 9335045 (even if no answer, please leave a message. It WILL be checked).