FEW things may put a smile on a loved one's face like the gift of a puppy or kitten at Christmas.
But authorities say that gift often leads to abandoned animals being killed in pounds when the responsibilities of owning a pet become evident.
Blacktown deputy mayor and veterinarian Russ Dickens said significant consideration should go into buying a pet for someone.
"A person couldn't get a better present than a new pet to care for," he said.
"But no one should give a pet to anyone unless they know their responsibilities and whether they are going to be able to care for that animal, to feed it and train it and pay for its health costs.
"It's regrettable that people often get a pet and then find they are going away on holidays.
"The costs of kennelling are quite high, and it's a time of year when there are many other costs."
Statistics from Blacktown pound, which takes animals from other council areas including, Auburn, Parramatta and Holroyd, show an increase in the number of dogs and cats in December and January.
An average of 22 additional cats above the yearly average of 77 a week are impounded.
A council spokeswoman said this increase was exacerbated by the time of year being cat reproduction season.
There is an average increase of about nine dogs a week entering the pound. The yearly average is 70 dogs a week.
"Owning a pet is a big responsibility and should not be taken light-heartedly,"she said.
The council used a range of strategies to help educate people on responsible pet ownership, she said.