Is it teething time for your little one?
If you are planning on giving your child a pet for Christmas, the Dublin Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) is asking parents to think carefully before giving a pet and consider interactive pet toys as a substitute.
 
So far this year, the DSPCA took in over 4,000 animals that were injured, sick, unwanted or badly treated and took 90,000 calls from members of the public concerned about animal welfare.
 
Gillian Bird, Education Officer for the Dublin SPCA, says Christmas is especially busy with parents wanting to give pets as a gift to children. ‘Each year we receive numerous calls from people wanting to give a pet as a gift. All too often people underestimate the commitment, care, and expense that a pet requires. As a result, by the time the Easter and Summer holidays come around, sadly many are looking to get rid of their new pet.’
 
Gillian suggests that parents consider alternative options before giving a pet this Christmas. ‘Interactive toy pets can be so life like that they are a great alternative to owning a real pet for families with busy lifestyles and especially for those who live in apartments or who work long hours.’ she said.
 
One of the most life-like toy pets available this year is a pint-sized golden retriever called Cookie from Hasbro’s FurReal range. Cookie responds to her owner through voice recognition technology. When spoken to, she will move her head, blink and bark, just like a real dog. She also responds to touch and makes happy puppy sounds when you pet her head and cheeks. Cookie can even track her squeaky toys with her eyes and head as it’s moved in front of her.
 
‘These interactive toy pets are now so sophisticated that they are a great way for kids and adults alike to learn about responsible pet care before making a life-long commitment to the real thing. The decision to take on a pet is a very important one that many people rush into without considering the implications,’ said Gillian.
 
So think long and hard this Christmas before committing to a pet. If you are unsure if your family is ready to take on the responsibility of a pet, give your child an interactive pet for Christmas and decide later on in the year if a real pet is something your family still wants.

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