As a lifelong lover of all animals, I’ve been puzzled, angered and saddened to read that already animal charities are being overwhelmed with abandoned animals no longer required by fickle owners.
Despite many warnings, silly people still buy appealing creatures as gifts for children or adults without seeking reassurances that they are wanted by the recipients, or that they will be properly cared for. Of course, for unscrupulous dealers and breeders, Christmas is a time to make a lot of money by cashing-in on an animal’s natural instincts to breed; puppy and kitten farms are a fact-of-life in every country; none more so than here in rural Carmarthenshire, deep in west Wales.
Despite the vigilance of animal welfare officers and well-meaning animal lovers many farms and similar isolated dwellings have a plethora of outbuildings where guilty secrets can be hidden from the curious eyes of any well-intentioned member of the public, and there are plenty of unscrupulous dealers who traffic puppies, kittens and other small animals into pet-shops or market stalls where they know parents and children will find these tiny creatures irresistible.
Even when bought and brought home, there is no guarantee that the new pet will be properly cared for. Fish swim sluggishly in cloudy water littered with fish droppings. If they’re lucky, they may be in decent tanks or aquaria, but too many find themselves imprisoned in a small bowl or something similar, while being forced to swim in endless circles, exposed to the constant glare of whatever light is in the room they are placed.
I know a young couple, both at work all day, who swear they love their dog, spend money on good food, expensive bedding and toys – yet leave him all day from 7.45 in the morning until maybe 17.30, or later in the evening, until they come home from work. If they are going to be delayed, we might get a call asking us to look in on him to give him food and let him out to relieve himself. Naturally, the dog doesn’t want to go in again and plays hard-to-get because he desperately wants to play by jumping up on any visitors to receive the attention and exercise he craves.
Playing and walking are something his owners never have time for, or the inclination to do, and seem puzzled that this good-natured, naturally boisterous Labrador is guilty of anti-social behaviour because in his exuberance, he jumps with sheer joy when meeting anyone. Even at weekends, they leave him all day, and sometime all night in the kitchen (where he’s confined) with nothing but the television playing endlessly. Well-meaning friends have tried taking Bertie for a walk, but after about two hundred meters, he sits down and refuses to go further – although, after enjoying a week-end in one, will go anywhere in a camper-van!