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Think before buying pet for Christmas, deputy chief vet says
In January, the USPCA had more than 50 animals waiting to be rehomed.
DAERA and USPCA make appeal to public.

As the festive season approaches, the public is being urged to think carefully before buying or adopting a pet as a Christmas present.

Northern Ireland’s Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has joined with animal welfare charity the Ulster Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) to remind the public that getting a pet is a long-term commitment.

Each year, rescue centres see an influx of pets being given up following the Christmas period. In January this year, the USPCA had more than 50 animals at its centre in need of rehoming.

The appeal comes at a time when centres across the UK are seeing high numbers of pets being given up as people struggle with the cost-of-living crisis.

Nora Smith, USPCA chief executive, said: “It may seem counter-intuitive that we do not encourage anyone to buy or adopt a new pet at Christmas given our centre is full of animals in need of a new home.

“However it’s an upsetting reality that in the weeks and months after Christmas we are often asked to take in puppies, kittens and other pets given as presents once the novelty has worn off.

“It’s not just young animals that come to us, older animals can be discarded to make way for new ones.”

People thinking about getting a pet are being asked to think carefully about the responsibility and to wait until after Christmas to allow more time and space to settle a new pet into the home.

Gemma Daly, Northern Ireland’s deputy chief veterinary officer, said: “Pets are often bought at Christmas as presents for loved ones and whilst there is no doubt potential owners are not seeking to do any harm, unfortunately, if careful consideration has not been given to the implications of bringing a new pet into a household, they can end up having to surrender them.

“Different pets have a range of important and diverse needs and it is critical that prospective owners ensure they can provide for an animal’s care and veterinary needs throughout their entire lifetime.

“Advice on how to care for a range of pets is available on NI Direct and prospective owners should first familiarise themselves with the responsibilities that come with being the owner of an animal before making any decisions on how to proceed.”

Image © Shutterstock

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Charities' XL bully neutering scheme closes

News Story 1
 A scheme that helped owners of XL bully dogs with the cost of neutering has closed to new applications due to high demand.

The scheme, run by the RSPCA, Blue Cross, and Battersea, has helped 1,800 dogs and their owners after XL bullies were banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

In England and Wales, owners of XL bully dogs which were over one year old on 31 January 2021 have until 30 June 2024 to get their dog neutered. If a dog was between seven months and 12 months old, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If it was under seven months old, owners have until 30 June 2025.

More information can be found on the Defra website. 

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News Shorts
Avian flu cattle outbreak spreads to tenth US state

Cattle in two dairy herds in Iowa have tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), making it the tenth state in the USA to be affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease in cattle.

Since March 2024, more than 80 herds across the USA have been affected by the virus and three dairy workers have tested positive. Authorities have introduced measures to limit the spread of the virus and farmers have been urged to strengthen their biosecurity protocols.

Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, said: "Given the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within dairy cattle in many other states, it is not a surprise that we would have a case given the size of our dairy industry in Iowa.

"While lactating dairy cattle appear to recover with supportive care, we know this destructive virus continues to be deadly for poultry."