For countless children across the area, this Christmas saw them welcome an exciting new addition to the household as the welcomed a pet into the fold.
Unfortunately many of these animals will be rehoused, returned or in some cases neglected once the novelty has worn off and the commitment towards the animal declines.
One small charity in Banbury sees this saddening trend each and every year despite more information and advice on pet ownership being available and better vetting of would be owners.
Banbury Animal Rescue and Kindness Service (BARKS) is a small charity which takes in stray and unwanted cats, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs and most other small domesticated pets.
The charity has been providing a refuge and rehousing small animals since 1986 and has been under the guidance of Theresa Grant for the last seven who has seen little change in the seasonal demand for pets and the subsequent influx of those that end up unwanted.
Theresa said: “It’s a surge before Christmas, out with the old and in with the new. We had quite a lot of cats come in just before Christmas.
“Then, obviously six months after Christmas is when all the little kittens that aren’t kittens any more get dumped.
She added: “Basically it’s even worse these days as private landlords and temporary accommodation won’t allow pets so we get a lot of animals come in because people are moving and can’t take them.”
Moving is just one reason people are giving when handing over their pets to BARKS and range from pregnancy and allergic reactions to limitations of time as factors. The recession also had a big impact as people’s pets were the quickest and easiest to reduce by simply giving the animal away.
The charity can house 30 cats at anyone time in addition to rabbits, ferrets and other small animals and as part of the adoption process insist on a home visit to ensure the environment is suitable and the would be owner fully understands the commitment of animal ownership.
Theresa has simple advice for those thinking about becoming a pet owner, either at Christmas or any other time of the year.
She said: “Think twice. If you know your circumstances are going to change.
“Just don’t get one until you are 100 per cent certain that you are settled and you can give the animal a lifetime of care.”
To learn more about BARKS, the animals they have for adoption, upcoming events or volunteer opportunities visit their website