Posted by & filed under Inner West Independent.

Wildlife rescue group WIRES has released a statement urging people to think twice before giving cats or dogs as presents this Christmas.

Statistics released by WIRES show there have been over 50,000 recorded attacks on wildlife by cats and dogs across the state since 1991.

Stan Wood, Chief Executive Officer for WIRES, said these figures do not include animals delivered to local vets or those animals which simply die in the bush and that the true figures were probably much higher.

Leichhardt, Balmain and Annandale were the worst spots for cat attacks in the inner west, with a wide range of native birds such as the spotted turtle dove, the rainbow lorikeet and magpies falling prey to felines. Cats also attack animals such as the bandicoot, flying fox and ringtail possums.

Dog attacks were most common in Rozelle, Leichhardt and Balmain, with blue-tongue lizards suffering the highest number of incidents.

Jilea Carney, media spokesperson for WIRES, said that cats have a bigger impact than dogs, but that even the scent of a dog or cat is enough to scare wildlife away from an area.

Ms Carney encouraged the use of ‘cat enclosures’ and advised dog owners to walk their pets regularly on a leash, as well as not letting them outside unsupervised or at night.

Magdoline Awad, Chief Veterinarian for RSPCA NSW, agreed cat owners should consider an outdoor cat enclosure, which gives cats access to the outdoors but keeps them away from wildlife. “If you can’t keep them indoors all the time, at least confine them indoors at night,” she said.

Dr Awad said that December is the busiest time of year for the RSPCA. Many cats have just had litters, leading to an influx of animals. In addition, many families come under financial stress, leading to decisions to relinquish animals. She advises anyone thinking about purchasing a pet to be aware of the responsibilities and to consider purchasing animals from the RSPCA, which desexes, vaccinates and micro-chips all the animals it re-homes.

by Aaron Cook