In an effort to stop the irresponsible purchase of animals as gifts, Flemish minister for animal welfare Ben Weyts launched a new campaign on Thursday with the slogan "Een dier is (g)een cadeau" (an animal is not a gift) to coincide with the Christmas and New Year celebrations ahead.
It is not uncommon for animals to be given as gifts, Weyts stated: "Animals can be a wonderful gift but only if it is a thoughtful decision. An animal is not a bag of crisps you pick from the rack before a party night."
With the new campaign, the minister wants to make people aware that bringing animals into their homes also involves responsibilities.
- Animal shelters in overdrive as owners abandon pets after summer holidays
- Pet owners will need a permit to adopt in Wallonia
"It is crucial to think carefully: will the new owners have enough time to take good care of the animal? How will the housemates feel about it? Can all costs be paid?" the minister said. "If you are thoughtful, it will bring joy to both humans and the animals. But it is a significant and long-term commitment."
The campaign runs online, on social media, and in physical locations such as on De Lijn buses.