While many Nelson Mandela Bay residents enjoyed the festive season by taking a well-deserved holiday away from home, all too often for pets it was a time of suffering.
Animal shelter officials said yesterday that incidents like abandonment, cruelty to animals and runaways traditionally skyrocketed during the holiday season.
They said people moving house, downscaling, holidaying and setting off fireworks were the major causes of distress to animals in the Bay.
Animal Welfare Society Port Elizabeth manager Hannes Stander, who has been involved with the organisation for more than 16 years, said helpers had been inundated during the holiday period.
“November and December definitely are the worst months for an increase in stray and abandoned animals.
“In December, we took in more than 300 strays or abandoned animals. We try to find them homes or place them back with their families.
“We have a good track record of finding owners, which is positive, but this is an annual thing,” he said.
Stander said another factor contributing to animals ending up on the street could be the country’s financial climate.
“A lot of people are moving out of houses into flats and can’t take their animals with them. Sometimes people just can’t take care of their animals any more. “Every year it increases. “We urge people to make proper provision for their animals at this time, like putting them in a decent shelter.
“When people start planning their holiday, provision for the animals is always a last-minute thing.”
He said big celebrations like New Year’s Eve and the opening of the season were not suited to keeping pets safe.
Animal Anti-Cruelty League inspector Beverley Rademeyer said the organisation had been inundated with calls during the festive season. “Every year we have the same problem. “We thought we had broken down the barrier, educating people to keep their animals safe over this period. “But it has proved to be in vain. “It is frustrating to see the number of stray and abandoned animals on the streets – and abandonment is only one problem we are faced with.”
With a clear rise in missing animals – from dogs and cats to pet birds – animal groups on social media have been abuzz over the festive season.