AS CHRISTMAS approaches, I can't help but feel sad for the animals that will be surrendered to shelters.
I know there will always be circumstances preventing pet owners from caring for their animals and are left with no choice but to hand them over, but I'm not referring to that.
I'm talking about irresponsible pet owners who choose to surrender the family pet at this time of the year because they're an inconvenience to holiday plans.
Hervey Bay Animal Refuge committee secretary Lyn Totman urged pet owners to organise a carer if they're going away.
"It's something they need to think about long before Christmas hits," she said.
"See if they have any family or friends that can look after the pets in their absence or book them into care early in the piece before the boarding kennels are filled."
Ms Totman said the past few weeks has seen an increase in animals being surrendered.
"We've had to close our cattery a couple of times because we've been full," she said.
"We could probably take another five dogs and we could take a small litter of kittens or three adult cats and that would take us back to capacity again.
"We close our books on December 15, so we don't take any more after that date until the new year."
RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty said every year hundreds of animals are reported as being abandoned during the holidays.
Mr Beatty said while some of them had been abandoned, others had someone assigned to care for them.
"The problem is that the animals' owners often neglect to notify neighbours and these neighbours report the matter to us," he said.
"I would urge anyone who leaves their pets in the care of family or friends to register with our Home Alone service.
"People can register their pet on our website and leave the name and contact details of the people taking care of the animal that way we know who to contact in case of emergencies."
With three weeks left until Christmas, I beg all pet owners who have plans to leave the Bay, to take responsibility of your animals. These animals did not choose to live with you, you chose them, please do the right thing by them.
To register your animal with the RSPCA's Home Alone service, visit rspca.org.au.