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Last Updated: Monday, 24 December 2007, 13:50 GMT
Animal centre full of dumped pets
The centre is home to a wide range of domestic animals.

An animal welfare centre in Tayside is already full due to the number of pets being abandoned in the run-up to Christmas.

The Scottish SPCA facility in Petterden has 78 stray or unwanted domestic animals, including dogs, cats, rats, budgies, and even a polecat and ferret.

There are particular concerns about the number of rabbits being cast aside.

Staff are urging people not to buy pets as Christmas presents, due to the fact they can need care for up to 20 years.

Sharon Comrie, Scottish SPCA regional manager for the north of Scotland, told the BBC Scotland news website: "People think it's only dogs and cats that are Christmas mistakes.

"But it's also the hamsters, children want hamsters or gerbils as a pet, and after 2 or 3 weeks the novelty wears off and then mum's left with them and she doesn't like their tails and things like that, and so we inevitably get them here at the centre."

We're now approaching 2008 and it's the same problems we had back in the 70s
Sharon Comrie
Scottish SPCA

There are 13 abandoned rabbits at the Tayside centre, and in Lothian last week there were 29.

Ms Comrie said: "They're now the most popular pet for people to buy after the cat and the dog, and then in the winter people can't be bothered to go outside to clean them out and to give them the care that they need and they abandon them in parks and forests.

"They think because they're a rabbit they can survive, but of course they're domesticated and they can't so we get them in here."

The famous slogan, "A dog is for life not just for Christmas" was coined in 1978, but Ms Comrie feels it is just as relevant today.

Joney the cat
Better medicines mean pets are living longer

She said: "We're now approaching 2008 and it's the same problems we had back in the 70s.

"I don't think people class animals as a little life, they're just something the children want and they don't realise that animals, like humans, are living longer with the veterinary care medicines that are on the go now."

She added that people also get rid of their old animal to bring in a puppy or kitten at this time of year.

"Think very strongly on not just for Christmas and the happiness it brings the child on Christmas day, but long-term," she said.

"Also it isn't a good time of the year to bring an animal into the house, especially a puppy or a kitten, because you've got all your Christmas decorations, you've got relatives coming in and out the house, you've got children's little bits of toys that the puppy or kitten can pick up and vet bills are very expensive these days."

Adopt-a-bunny scheme at pet shop
19 Jul 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Pedigree dogs are found abandoned
09 May 07 |  Tayside and Central
Homes plea for three-legged dogs
31 Mar 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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