The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has appealed to people not to give puppies as Christmas gifts this year.
The ISPCA has also launched an appeal to members of the public to call for urgent donations to assist its work in protecting animals at risk in Ireland, while highlighting the sharp increase in cruelty and neglect of animals as a result of the economic downturn.
The organisation said it has recorded an increase of 45% in calls to its National Animal Cruelty Helpline to the end of November 2009, compared to the same period last year.
There were 9,476 calls to the helpline so far this year, compared to 5,202 in the first 11 months of 2008.
"These figures clearly demonstrate the effect of the recession on the plight of animals in Ireland," said ISPCA chairperson Barbara Bent.
“From March onwards, we noted a sharp rise in the number of calls to our helpline and this trend has continued throughout the year, in particular relating to cruelty, neglect and abandonment of horses. We are calling on people to make a donation to the ISPCA or purchase one of our thoughtful gifts this Christmas.”
The ISPCA has also warned people about the unsuitability of giving a puppy as a gift this Christmas, advising that it is not the best time of year to introduce a puppy as a family pet.
In addition, the organisation has witnessed many cases of older dogs, which may have been given as gifts last Christmas or in previous years, being abandoned in the run up to Christmas to make room for a new puppy.
“Christmas is simply not the best time of year to introduce a puppy to your household," Ms Bent said.
"The shorter evenings and bad weather in December and January, coupled with the fact that children are back at school shortly after the arrival of the puppy, mean that families don’t have sufficient time to train and bond with their new pet."
"We recommend that May is the best month to get a puppy, so that there’s plenty of time to establish a routine over the summer months.”