Animals at Christmas post leads to criticism of councils

A social media post by Adur and Worthing councils has attracted criticism for supposedly endorsing the purchase of animals as gifts for Christmas.

Sophie, one of the dogs at the Shoreham Dogs Trust
Sophie, one of the dogs at the Shoreham Dogs Trust

The post appeared as part of the councils’ Christmas campaign, in which daily tips are posted on Facebook to encourage residents to reduce waste and recycle more over the festive period.

But one of the tips, posted on the 11th day of the campaign, attracted criticism after the following was posted: “Do you have modest wishes when it comes to presents? Or are you lucky enough to already have everything you need and always wanted?

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“Then you could tell the family you would be happy to receive ‘anything live’ – that means special food, plants or animals. You’ll enjoy the food, green fingers providing, a plant will give you pleasure for years to come...and well pets, remember they are not just for Christmas.”

The post has since been modified so that it reads ‘special food or plants’.

Councillor Joss Loader said: “I am glad that the council has modified its post following justifiable online criticism from local residents.

“It goes without saying that animals should never be given as unsolicited gifts, and definitely not at Christmas when homes are often noisy and chaotic.

“Taking on any pet is a huge responsibility and it should be a considered choice by any potential owner, who needs to ensure that their home is suitable for the animal and its individual needs.

“Plants and food are fine as gifts – but definitely not any living creature.”

Adur and Worthing councils did not respond to a request for a comment.

A spokesman for the Dogs Trust, which coined the famous ‘a dog is for life not just for Christmas’ slogan in the 70s, said hundreds of dogs are sadly abandoned every Christmas.

Tracey Rae, manager of the Dogs Trust centre in Shoreham, said: “We urge anyone thinking of getting a dog during this busy period to seriously think about the commitment involved before making your decision.”

To help prevent people getting dogs as Christmas presents, the Dogs Trust’s rehoming centres do not usually rehome dogs over the Christmas period – though people will still be able to visit a centre and reserve a dog every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.