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​As the season of merrymaking starts, animal welfare organisations will be inundated with an influx of animals in need of care.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) has made an impassioned to Johannesburg residents in particular to be “mindful of the welfare of all animals” during the holiday season.

NSPCA spokesperson Christine Kuch has called on anyone who has witnessed or has knowledge of incidences of animal abuse or neglect “not to fear coming forward with information”.

“As with so many issues, animal welfare starts at home,” she said.
Kuch has pleaded with citizens, residents and visitors to the city to heed the pet care tips that the society has put together for the festive season. The tips include:

 Make suitable arrangements for your pets if you are going away;
 Ensure your own animals have been vaccinated;
 Ensure each animal has identification, with microchip the preferred option;
 Ensure that during festivities pets do not have access to food or treats, especially chocolate, which is toxic to dogs; and
 Ensure that fireworks, bursting balloons and popping decorations do not startle the animals.

“The best advice is to give the animals either a room of their own during the festivities or make sure they are far away from the hubbub.”
Kuch explains that party items or decorations are often mistaken for toys and that accidents could occur.

She has also called on citizens not to support unethical animal and wildlife tourism or remove wildlife from their habitats.
“We ask the public to be our eyes and ears in the approach to and during the festive season. If you encounter any situation involving an animal that concerns you, report it quickly and directly.

“Store the number of your local NSPCA on your cellphone and call them immediately with as much information as possible,” says Kuch.
She adds that pets, especially exotic animals, are not an ideal gift choice.
“They are unsuitable as surprise gifts,” she says.
For your local NSPCA listings, log onto www.nspca.co.za