Five things to be aware before buying a pet this Christmas

It's the animals that always pay the price for our impulsiveness.

By Holly Royce
Unhappily, statistics surrounding the spike of abandoned cats and dogs during February and March has become all too familiar for most of us.
The sales of pets skyrockets during the Christmas period, which accounts for the rise in discarded pets when the festive season comes to an end.
Understanding that pets are a lifelong commitment and not just for Christmas is crucial, and there's another dangerous aspect to Holiday pet shopping people need to know about: The dangers if buying pets online.
Many people use the internet to save time when Christmas shopping and shopping for pets is no different.
Animal welfare campaigner Jeroen van Kernebeek, Country Director at FOUR PAWS Australia highlights some key concerns when shopping for dogs and cats online.
Jeroen reminds us that when we are shopping from an online trading platform, you can see who you are buying your animal from or how they treat them.
Did you know puppy farms and kitten mills contribute to 90,000 euthanised dogs and cats a year in Australia alone?
That's an industry that NO ONE wants to support.
"Unfortunately, there are breeders who care more about the money than the welfare of the dogs and the online trade gives them a perfect platform to hide their poor practices," explains Jeroen.
"Sadly, the animals pay the price with severe health problems and accompanying grief and veterinary bills for the owners."
"Purchasing animals from such breeders comes with many risks for the health of the puppy and the parent animals."
Jeroen has shared the top five things to be aware of if you are considering buying your new family addition online in the lead up to Christmas.
An important message to think about this Christmas. (Image: Supplied)

1. Think about it

Anyone considering adding an animal to the family should ask themselves if they are ready for the commitment.
Being a guardian of an animal is a wonderful thing, but it takes a lot of work and responsibility, and is something that should be taken seriously. Make sure you have the space and the time to take care of your new animal friend, not just today or tomorrow, but for the long-term.
Animals should not be considered as Christmas gifts or as a novelty item, but with the care and consideration of this lifelong commitment. Christmas can be taxing enough without adding a stressed animal to the occasion.

2. Adopt, don't shop

We strongly recommend Australians consider adoption from an animal welfare organisation first.
When welcoming a new companion animal into your life, choosing to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue group not only saves the life of that animal, but also positively contributes to the ongoing fight against animal overpopulation and homelessness.
Thousands of wonderful animals are brought to shelters every year not because of something they have done, but because their owners have had a change in situation such as moving homes, which leaves these once beloved pets in desperate need of a new forever home.
That's why FOUR PAWS always recommends adopting an animal rather than buying one. And yes, you can do that online too:
Adopt, don't shop when it comes to pets. (Image: Supplied)

3. Do your research

If you are buying online, ask yourself how you can ensure that the breeder you're thinking of buying from is ethical. Unfortunately, the online trade is poorly regulated.
All online trading platforms, including the popular Gumtree and Trading Post, are missing important systems such as seller identity verification to ensure the animals sold through their sites are offered by reputable breeders.
You can really only ensure that you are about to buy a happy and healthy animal when you visit the breeder personally and insist to see where the animal was born and what the living conditions of the mother and father are.
Too often have we seen cases where a puppy has come from truly horrendous conditions, suffering from disease and behavioural issues, due to their treatment at bad breeders.

4. Avoid puppy farms and backyard breeders

These breeders focus on producing high volume animals and making money.
The conditions on these farms are terrible and inhumane. Females are used merely to breed and are treated very badly. As most of the animals are continually made pregnant before fully recovering, their offspring can be predisposed to disease.
Such breeders are immoral and their practices are cruel to both the parent animals and their puppies. Unfortunately a lot of people don't realise that online pictures don't always tell the whole truth.
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5. Don’t be afraid to ask

Asking the breeder all the right questions will help you find the perfect animal to join the family.
Ask as many questions as you can, such as for the microchip and vaccination papers.
What can they tell you about the breed? Does the animal require a lot of exercise? Is the animal child friendly? Essentially, people need to listen to their instincts. If something feels off, then find another option