Pets can make life richer for owners, but purchasing one should not be made on a whim, RSPCA Victoria chief executive Dr Liz Walker said.
According to Dr Walker, due consideration should be given before a pet is brought into a home.
“Pets make our lives so much better,” she said.
“They’re really good for our mental health and wellbeing, and they’re very good for children and teenagers too.
“Having said that, we would strongly recommend that… if you’re thinking about getting an animal for someone, please make sure they want one in the first place.
“Take them on a trip to a shelter, if you’re looking at adopting… and have a conversation with the staff there.”
Dr Walker said it was important to consider elements like the needs of the animal, the cost associated with that animal, and its life expectancy.
“The key question that we need people to ask is ‘is everyone prepared to look after that pet for its whole life?” Dr Walker said.
“If it’s a cat, it could live for 20 years… smaller dogs will live up to 20 years as well.
“There’s of course the affordability, and how much care that animal’s going to need, and the accommodation that they’ll need.”
When considering approaching a breeder to purchase a pet for your family or loved one, Dr Walker said it would be advisable to refer to the RSPCA Victoria puppy and dog, and kitten and cat buyer guides.
“Essentially [the guides say] go to the place where the puppy [or kitten] was born,” she said.
“Meet the mother animal, and the father animal, if you can, to make sure you’re satisfied with the conditions.
“In Victoria, we’re really lucky, because we have the Pet Exchange Register in place, which is run by the state government.
“[It] promotes responsible breeding and means that anyone selling an animal… has to have what’s called a source number.
“If the person selling you the animal does not have a source number, then you mustn’t buy [the] animal.”
Dr Walker said prospective pet parents can visit the Pet Exchange Register website to verify the breeder’s credentials.
The buyer guides are available online.