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Furry mates book out pet hotels

By Brendan Manning

Local catteries and kennels are at maximum occupancy this summer as picky pet owners put their furry friends into expert care for the holidays.

Two local pet motels are fully booked for cats until the new year.

Carterton's Fluffies Cattery owner Wendy Hesp said her little cattery had a maximum occupancy of eight cats and was already full for the holidays.

"I just charge low rates and people bring their own food," Ms Hesp said.

The cats all had their own toys and special beds and were kept separately to avoid any conflict.

"A lot of people like that because one lady did ask me, 'It's not like the SPCA is it where the cats are all stuck in one big room'?" Ms Hesp said.

Masterton's alCATraz boarding cattery owner Valda Andersen said Christmas is the busiest time of the year for them.

They have been fully booked from December 22 up until January 2.

They have 47 cats on the premises and "last Christmas was around about the same", according to Mrs Andersen.

She said many cats are regulars although some had come from Wellington for a few days while their owners were moving house.

The cats each have their own enclosure where they sleep at night and are fed, although they are able to play in the rest of the cattery during the day.

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," he said.

"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.

"With the heat - it is certainly very unwise to take your dog in a car, and leave it for any length of time - and by any length of time, I mean, any time over five minutes is dangerous.

"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 ensure animals had plenty of water to prevent them becoming dehydrated, Mr Kerridge said.

Every year the SPCA had to break into cars to free trapped dogs.

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," Mr Kerridge said.

When people took their pets away on holiday it was also 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 also dealt with more abandonment cases at this time of year, mainly cats and kittens. While some people took the unwanted animals to the SPCA to deal with, "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 can not be tolerated," Mr Kerridge said.

SPCA centres were full to overflowing with insufficient foster homes.

"We can always do with more ... fostering is a very, very important element of saving lives," he said.

If pet owners could not afford a kennel or cattery to look after their animal these holidays, the best alternative was to have somebody live in their house, Mr Kerridge said.APNZ


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