It is perhaps unsurprising that Greater Shepparton’s animal shelter has an increase in numbers about this time of year.
And credit should be paid to the shelter for ensuring its practices are capable of dealing with this influx of pets walking through their doors.
Managers say during the holiday period the facility has been inundated with animals, resulting in the cats and kittens area being full and the dogs area nearing capacity.
This is not their fault. It is largely one that is community driven, largely the result of poor organisation, low care levels and a lack of knowledge of good pet ownership.
They are also causes that can be addressed through strong messaging and education, while perhaps not easily taken on board right away.
Shelter management have identified a few causes for the increase in numbers.
The first is owners lacking the decency to make arrangements for their pets while they are away on holiday.
The second is unwanted pets, perhaps received as gifts or purchased during the holidays, being surrendered due to an inability to be look after them.
The third is a lack of awareness of the importance of desexing or registering animals.
A pet is a responsibility and a companion for the duration of its life and owners should treat it as such.
Council’s citizen services manager Laurienne Winbanks rightly compares those leaving their cats or dogs at home alone, without making arrangements for them to be fed or looked after, to leaving a family member in the same situation.
It is irresponsible behaviour.
First and foremost to the pet’s well-being.
But the burden goes further than that incurred by the owner and the animal shelter. When resources are pushed, it also has the potential to impact on the ratepayer.
In a similar fashion, pet owners who do not ensure their pet is desexed or registered should show a bit more consideration.
The shelter is tolerant in its willingness to allow owners of unregistered animals to come in and ensure their pets are registered without reproach.
The attitude that it is no one else’s problem other than the owner’s is a complete falsehood.
A disservice is being done to the animal in not registering them by making it extremely difficult for the pet to be returned safely to its home, should it become lost and handed in to the animal shelter.
Similarly, by not desexing pets, the potential for over population is compounded.
This all has the makings of additional unnecessary burden being created for shelter staff and pushes resources.
It is no doubt a difficult message for those in charge of the shelter to get across.
But one that needs to be persistently pushed.
Perhaps the most important message of all though is that dumping animals is absolutely never the answer.
If you are unable to look after them yourself, give them a chance at a good life with someone else by handing them in to the shelter.
And if you are looking for a forever pet, try the shelter first before going elsewhere.