Editorial

Danger for abandoned pets

Owners have an obligation to the pets in their care. Yet, the pet industry all-too-often hears reports of abandoned reptiles.

Earlier this week, a five-foot python was found in St George’s Park in Wandsworth. The snake was apprehended by police, who delivered their so-called ‘slippery customer’ to Putney Animal Hospital. The discovery was made just days after two other pythons had been collected from a playing field in nearby Twickenham.

Cleveland Police Force also encountered snakes this summer. Two, including a six-foot boa constrictor, were rescued from a lane in Guisborough, one was found trapped in a car engine in Middlesbrough and, earlier this week, a python was collected from Kirkleatham Woods.

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Reptiles aren’t the only pets at risk. The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home recently reported an increase in abandoned pets during the holiday season. The Scottish SPCA has also raised fears for rabbits after rescuing 728 last year alone.

For the pet industry and local community these developments are yet more examples of a worrying trend. Owners have an obligation to their pets, regardless of their species. Snakes that are not native to Britain will certainly suffer when abandoned in our cool climate, also putting local wildlife at risk.

Pet professionals have a responsibility to provide information on pets’ care. Many members of the industry already work closely with new owners. Much of the trade provides advice, tries to encourage a responsible attitude and often offers ‘cooling off’ periods prior to a sale, asking to see proof of suitable housing. But, can more be done? Though some owners may discover their pet has become lost, the sad likelihood is that many have been dumped.

 

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