EVERYBODY has a pet or has had a pet over the course of their life.
Cats, dogs, birds and many others are kept as companions by people in Fiji and the world.
And while there are many heartwarming stories of pets and owners showing extreme care for each other, there are also many more stories of animal cruelty that go untold.
Negligence of pets is an all too common sight in the country and the battle against negligence is one the local chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is constantly fighting.
Over the coming weeks, The Fiji Times will aim to create awareness on the plight of these neglected pets around the country.
Many of these pets end up at SPCA centres — unwanted and uncared for, and it is through the admirable work of those at the SPCA that these pets find new homes.
Through this column The Fiji Times will also profile a pet that is up for adoption at the SPCA. However, today we will begin with the profiling of tragic cases the SPCA has come across.
SPCA has tragically had 170 animals die by euthanasia this year.
And this has been attributed to negligence by pet owners.
SPCA general manager Naveena Roshni knows all about negligence, having witnessed it in many pets that are brought to the SPCA in Suva.
She said there were a number of reasons that pets had to die by euthanasia at the SPCA.
"Some owners do want to own pets but they don't look after them, and when they fail they request us to be put to sleep because, animals get very sick with serious diseases like Parovirus,"
Ms Roshni said. "Sometimes they have old injuries gone bad or there are lumps and tumors grown so big that the poor animal can't walk," she added.
And indeed the statistics provided by the SPCA back this up with 45 animals being put to sleep by euthanasia this year alone because they were sick.
A further 36 pets had the same fate because they were poisoned while 24 had to be put down because they had suffered from excessive animal cruelty while the rest were put to sleep for other reasons.
Ms Roshni said other cases of negligence included serious cases of mange, where all the animal's hair falls off.
"If brought in earlier and with vaccines this can be prevented but some don't bother until the poor animal cannot be cured," she stated.
She explained that people needed to understand that if they had unwanted pets, all they had to do was bring them down to the SPCA where they would be taken care of.
"There is so much I need to say but, if people still have no heart to care then there is nothing to say , because it won't make any difference," she said. Under the Crimes Decree 2009, the maximum penalty for wilfully and unlawfully killing an animal is five years imprisonment.