WHILE Santa is thinking about gifts, may I put in a plea that he or any helpers think twice before give an animal as a present?
It might seem to be a good idea at the time, but please remember those animals grow, need to eat and require love and attention.
The Cheltenham Animal Shelter does what it can to rehouse unwanted animals but it is not only cats and dogs these days, but exotic pets which owners no longer want.
The most unwanted exotic seems to be terrapins. They are very cute and appealing creatures which can be purchased easily from many pet shops when they are not much bigger than a two pence piece.
People often ignore that advice about the size they can get to and they outgrow their tanks – then the animal shelter gets them. Mind you, that is better than dumped in a box by a rubbish bin.
This is what Deborah and the caring people at the shelter tell me. The reasons why an animal is no longer wanted are varied, such as ''the children have lost interest'' or "it doesn't like being handled''.
Small animals such as rabbits are often given as a gift for children but once the novelty wears off, the poor creature is left in a small hutch with no company and very little human contact – is there any wonder as to why it has become aggressive?
Most pet shops do give advice but when animals are advertised for sale, I would like to see a reminder on what it takes to care for a pet.
This year so far 853 animals have ended up at the shelter, some rescued by the police. If someone still wants a pet after Christmas why not adopt one in need of a little TLC from the Cheltenham Animal Shelter.