All they want for Christmas

Monday December 16th 2013

All they want for Christmas...

Thirty-five years ago this month, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity introduced the now iconic slogan, ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’.

Dog's Trust's message about responsible pet ownership is as relevant today as it was then, as animal shelters around the world prepare to take in the annual flood of dumped Christmas pets in the early months of next year.

Among them is Paws and Claws, the Douglas Shire’s local homeless animal society and boarding kennels.

Though many locals have adopted one of the shelter’s dogs or cats, boarded a pet, acted as a Paws Buddy, or supported and donated to the charity, more than 100 lost, abused, injured or neglected dogs and cats are still taken in and cared for every year.

“Holidays aren’t a good time to get pets,” said Paws and Claws co-founder, Bianca Maguire.

She urged families thinking about buying a new pet as a Christmas present to think about the commitment involved, and consider contacting an animal rescue group.

“Lots of unwanted pets come through around March, when school goes back. The dogs are left at home, the parents are at work and the kids are at school; they haven’t worked out how to accommodate for when the family’s not there.”

Ms Macguire said the best time to get a pet is on the weekend, when the family and animal can get used to a regular routine.

Paws and Claws currently has 13 adult dogs, three puppies, eight kittens, and numerous adult cats looking for new homes, and encourages potential pet owners to ‘try before you buy’.

One popular local option is Paws and Claws’ Buddy Program, which ‘loans’ out the shelter’s socialised dogs between 2-4pm weekdays and Saturdays, and overnight if a fenced yard is available.

A Melbourne family visiting Port Douglas last week ‘borrowed’ four-month old Lattis, a female Bull Arab X, for a few hours.

“There’s something special about rescue dogs,” said the Melbourne father of two.

“It’s like they appreciate a new owner and home more, because they remember what they’ve been through.”

For individuals or families ready for a longer commitment, shelter dogs are seeking Foster Buddies between December 15 to January 5.

“If there are any problems in between, you can bring the dog back,” Ms Macguire said.

“They’ve all been vaccinated, micro-chipped, de-sexed and wormed.”

As Paws and Claws doesn’t receive any ongoing government funding and relies on community support, donations, grants, and fundraising events, the holiday foster program provides much-needed revenue from boarding animals in the empty strays’ kennels.

For big-hearted locals or visitors unable to adopt a new pet but keen to help, consider adding Paws and Claws to your Christmas list. The shelter is always looking for donations of dry dog and cat food and blankets; drop off a Christmas treat to the Craiglie kennels or Coles Port Douglas.

The charity is still urgently trying to raise funds to build its new facility, after the Craiglie site went on the market in early September. Call Paws and Claws Treasurer Deborah Maguire on 0405 928 430 or visit for more information on becoming a donor or sponsor.

Paws and Claws maintains a ‘pro-life’ policy, meaning no animal is euthanised unless suffering from a debilitating disease or has repeatedly attacked another animal or person and cannot be retrained or rehoused.