SIR - Christmas will be different this year, and after months of strict restrictions many of us are itching for a distraction from daily life. But buying a puppy or a kitten is not the cure to our restlessness. Animals are living, thinking, feeling beings and a 15 to 20-year commitment - not entertainers or gifts that can easily be returned if they “don’t work out”.

In the first lockdown, Google searches for “buy a puppy” skyrocketed by 166per cent. Then, when society re-opened, many puppies ended up in animal shelters because the novelty had worn off and their guardians weren’t prepared to make the lifelong financial and emotional commitment that animals require.

Animal shelters predict high numbers of abandoned and neglected animals this Christmas as job losses and financial strain take their toll. Even in a “normal” year, the festive period is a notoriously bad time to bring an animal into your home.

If you’re certain that you’re prepared to care for an animal for life - including paying for routine and emergency veterinary care and providing house-training, food, toys, bedding, exercise, playtime, and everything else needed - make plans to adopt an animal from a shelter after Christmas.

Jennifer White, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Society, All Saints Street, London