NEXT year, Oxfordshire-based animal charities will deal with dozens of unwanted pets – many of them given as Christmas presents.

Charities report an increase in abandoned animals in the spring, after new owners have realised they cannot handle the responsibility of pet ownership.

Organisations across the county have teamed up to urge people to think carefully before giving a pet as a present.

Many of the unwanted animals abandoned this Christmas in Oxfordshire will end up at the Blue Cross’s Burford rehoming centre.

Animal welfare supervisor Laura Crofts said: “The centre will be caring for around 150 abandoned and unwanted pets over Christmas and we are always looking for good homes, regardless of the time of year.

“Sadly people still give pets as presents and charities like Blue Cross are left to pick up the pieces.

“We are always busy, but tend to see an increase in our intake in March when the novelty of a pet bought for Christmas has worn off.

“Pet ownership is extremely rewarding but it is a huge commitment that costs both time and money.

“We would encourage anyone thinking about taking on a new companion to do lots of research and ensure they choose a pet that’s right for them. Everyone in the family should be on board with the decision to take on an animal.

“Please consider visiting a reputable charity like Blue Cross if you think you are ready to bring a pet into your life.”