Cllr Neil Kelly, who is the proud owner of two red setters, said: “It is lovely to see children with new puppies at Christmas but I would ask that parents give a thought to the long term implications and responsibilities of being a dog owner before buying a puppy and keep in mind the Dog Trust’s saying that ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’. This old adage is not just a throwaway line, but very sensible advice.
“Also, a lot of parents have been caught out by ads in papers with a mobile phone number as a contact. They then arrange to meet at a roadside to exchange money for a pup. It’s important that people know exactly what they are buying and I would ask people to be sure that the seller of the pup is a reputable breeder. People should also go to the breeder and see the conditions of the kennels where the dogs are kept to ensure that good animal welfare standards can be upheld. People should never buy from anyone who keeps dogs in bad conditions, and they should immediately contact the authorities and alert them of the conditions too.
“Some unscrupulous sellers are also selling dogs that are prone to illness and infection. I would advise people to get a pup checked by their local vet as soon as they get them.
“Being a dog owner brings its own responsibilities, but is extremely rewarding. I have two Irish Setters which I really enjoy taking out for walks in the Antrim area around the castle grounds, lough shore and Rea’s wood. They are great dogs and need a lot of exercise and looking after, which I thoroughly enjoy.”