Pooch prince or pauper pets' holiday divide

By Brendan Manning

Running the bath so the cat can have a drink and putting parsley garnishes on pets' dinners are just some of the requests a local pet motel will field these holidays.

Absolutely Precious Paws owner Lisa Hudson said she was bracing for a busy year for the "doggie hotel" and pet-sitting business.

The standard fare for her clients was the "buffet-type scenario - they'd have a little bit of biscuits and a little bit of meat and a little bit of canned food and some treats on the side," she said.

"I've had dogs brought in to stay with us at the doggie hotel - they all have their own food, but sometimes [the meals are] all made up individually and I had one lady who had them all on little plates with a parsley garnish on them.

"The dogs are family pets - they're part of the family - so they're very important to them."

Ms Hudson said she wasn't taking on any new bookings for the "doggie hotel" - saving the few remaining spaces for regular clients.

All of the pets' owners were very particular about how their animals were treated, she said.

"People will say to you, 'They don't drink out of their cat bowl, but they will drink out of the bath, so if you can just change the water and put a little bit in every day ...' .

"I remember reading once about some of the strange requests people get pet-sitters to do like in America - getting people to have a shower with their bird - all sorts of things."

Pakowhai Cat resort owner Alison Ralph said she was fully booked over the peak holiday period, including some animals whose owners had decidedly more particular requests for their feline companions.

"I did have one lady - but this is really weird - she complained that another cattery had not talked to her cat.

"The cat told her [apparently], and I said, 'Well, if your cat talks to me, I certainly will talk back'."

The talking cat never came in.

SPCA national president Bob Kerridge said cases of animal abuse and neglect commonly arose during summer holidays.

"People leave their animals in the care of others and they're not always dependable.

"We do get a lot of distressed animals that are locked up and starving and haven't been fed for a few days."

Mr Kerridge said the SPCA's other major concern for pets over summer was for dogs trapped in cars.

"Even with the window slightly open or in shade ... with humidity, a dog's body temperature will rise very quickly, and the larger the dog, the quicker it rises."

Pet owners should also ensure animals had plenty of water to prevent them becoming dehydrated this summer, Mr Kerridge said.

If people noticed dogs trapped in hot cars they should call the SPCA, or the police - who could come and free them.

"Obviously if an animal is in distress, we're able to do whatever we have to do to release it."

When people took their pets away on holiday it was important to clearly identify them with a tag on their collar with a cellphone number so the pet could be easily reunited with the owner if lost.

The SPCA dealt with more abandonment cases at this time of year - mainly cats and kittens.

While some took unwanted animals to the SPCA, "there are an awful lot of animals that are abandoned that we don't see".

"Abandonment under the Animal Welfare Act is in fact an offence and certainly cannot be tolerated."

SPCA centres were currently "full to overflowing" with insufficient foster homes.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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