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A pawsome present idea?

South Australians are being urged to rethink a furry surprise from Santa this Christmas, unless they’re prepared to make a decade-long commitment to a suitable pet.

South Australian Dog and Cat Management Board spokesperson Andrew Lamb said pets can make a terrific addition to the family and are a great way to teach children responsibility, but no-one should ever buy a pet on a whim or as a surprise gift.

“If you are taking holidays this Christmas the downtime may be right for adopting a new pet – but always choose a pet that is right for you and not as a random present,” Mr Lamb said.

“We see far too many pets finding their way to shelters after Christmas because they have been abandoned, which is terribly traumatic for the animals and heartbreaking for the shelter staff.

“Take your mind away from the holiday-hype. A pet can be the best gift in the world, but pick your new family member personally and thoughtfully.

“Do your breed research, determine a suitable size, temperament, coat type and exercise requirements so the pet has a chance to do well in your home.

“Ask yourself questions, can you afford to pay for food, vet visits and other costs which can annually be around $2,000 for a dog and $1,500 for a cat? Do you have the time for grooming, training and exercise and also determine what size pet would suit the size of your home.

“Research has shown that matching pet and owner characteristics leads to greater satisfaction for owners and a much lower rate of surrender or abandonment.”

Visit the GoodDog or GoodCat websites for more information. There are thousands of unhomed pets looking to be adopted, so browse animal shelters and rescue groups online to find your perfect match. If buying from a pet shop always ask for details about the breeder, to ensure your pet is not from a cruel farm.