Christine Grahame: 600 abandoned pets have an important tale to tell

Pets are not sale/return so pause before you give in to a whim
Pets are not sale/return so pause before you give in to a whim
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Think long and hard before you decide to get a dog or a cat, writes Christine Grahame MSP

A dog (or a cat) is for life, not just for Christmas. This is an old slogan but it’s well worth repeating.

Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale

I say this as chair of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on animal welfare, a member of the SSPCA and patron of Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home. Whatever you do, don’t buy a pet over the festive period, or online or on an impulse.

Sure as eggs the dog-and-cat home will begin counting new arrivals in January once the novelty has worn off. It is also so cruel to the animal in new surroundings with noise, bright lights and folk coming and going.

Did you know that so far in 2017, the home has seen nearly 600 stray and unwanted dogs and cats come through its doors with the home finding new loving homes for these animals, and providing the veterinary treatment, food and shelter they have needed?

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But here is a good news story. Let me tell you about Tilly. This is her story.

Tilly, a Jack Russell terrier, arrived at the home in August after being picked up by police while wandering alone on the streets of Livingston.

She had a couple of ticks and needed to be spayed – but it was her age that was of most concern to the home’s staff.

As an older lady of at least eight to ten years of age, Tilly might have been a lot harder to rehome than some of her younger fellow residents.

That was until Mary and Henry walked through Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home’s door. The couple had previously owned a Jack Russell for 18 years and felt ready to take on another dog.

Mary described seeing Tilly for the first time as “knowing immediately she was the one”. Tilly is now learning to love and live life again in her new home in East Lothian.

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But – and it’s a big but – remember those 600 dogs and cats?

Each one for one reason or another, perhaps the death of the owner, a new baby, neglect or moving house found themselves on the ED&C Home doorstep.

So, for most folk my message is this. Be hard on yourself before you take on a dog (or cat). Think of your lifestyle. Think of it when it loses the fluffy appeal and those big round eyes and you have to take it walks in the rain, or find you need to make plans for it when you want to holiday, or when it scratches your brand new sofa, or it grows too big for your flat or you find vets’ bills are off the radar.

Think hard and don’t give in to young children’s pleas. They’ll soon tire of the commitment, the novelty.

Let’s make sure that in 2018 the only dogs and cats needing the safe harbour of the ED&C Home are there for only the best of reasons and not because an owner did not think twice and twice again. It’s not sale and return.

If you have done that, then the ED&C Home has a dog (or cat) just waiting for the right match but not for Christmas. No certainly not, but in January despite all I have said, no doubt there will be more dogs (and cats) needing a home.

So even then, pause before paws.

Christine Grahame is the SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale