Christmas dumping - it's time to throw out this myth
'Tis the season for Facebook feeds filling with posts about the ‘inevitable’ dumping of pets come Christmas and New Year.
But is there any conclusive evidence to show a significant influx of dumped pets over the holiday period?
The good news is - nope!
In fact, a number of studies show that owner surrenders are lower at this time of year compared to other months.
RSPCA Victoria has stated that they do not see any increase in the number of pets being surrendered in the months following Christmas.
And from RSPCA South Australia: “There is a widely-held view that animal shelters are flooded with unwanted “gift animals” early in the new year. We’ve not experienced this in our shelters, in fact our surrender rates in January and February are on average lower than the rest of the year.”
It seems our fears about Christmas dumping are based on fiction rather than fact. And with evidence showing pets given as gifts are surrendered less, not more, it’s time to put aside those silly season sayings blaming the ‘irresponsible public’ for the increase in animals coming into rescue over the summer.
This is not to say that Christmas and New Year in rescue isn’t tough. It is. But the reason it seems like it’s raining cats (and to a lesser extent dogs) at this time of year is far more to do with the breeding cycles of animals (namely, unowned cats) than with people dumping pets received as gifts.
More than 90 per cent of owned cats are desexed. As for unowned, feral and community cats, they do what undesexed cats do when the weather warms up. They breed, and by Christmas and New Year it’s kittens galore. Well-meaning people who come across these cats and kittens often try to help them by bringing them to a pound, shelter or rescue group. Which puts huge pressure on rescue groups trying to cope with kitten season, on top of all the other pets that need rehoming due to the myriad of reasons that life throws at them.
If we are looking at the wrong problem (like Christmas dumping), we can’t fix the real problems (like the broken pound system).
We all vent our frustrations and fears from time to time, but if the temptation arises to use public airspace to bemoan Christmas dumping (at the time of year when so many people are looking to welcome a pet into their family), perhaps we should first ask ourselves:
Could that same space be used to promote a rescue pet looking for new home?
Could that same space be used to let the public know rescue is the best option for obtaining a pet?
Could that same space be used to let people know that the holidays are a great time to adopt?
Let’s not waste our precious time and energy pointing the finger in the wrong direction.
Let’s dump this myth once and for all.