The post-Christmas period is one of the busiest times for the Scottish SPCA, as its 13 welfare centres across Scotland battle to deal with a deluge of neglected and abandoned animals given up by their owners after the festive period.

To try to combat the problem, the charity is seeing in January with an insert campaign focusing on the effects of giving pets as Christmas gifts and the strain that it puts on the SSPCA as it works to pick up the pieces when things go wrong.

The campaign uses imagery of broken and worn-out toys to highlight just how thoughtlessly these unfortunate animals are given as gifts, and how they are all too readily discarded when the novelty wears off.

The campaign has been designed to encourage people who may not have given to the charity before, to consider helping during this difficult time of year. SSPCA hopes to recruit about 300 new donors.

"This is a particularly difficult time of year for us," said Margaret Nethery, head of marketing at SSPCA. "The high number of animals in such a short period of time can put a tremendous strain on our budget. This insert addresses the issue head-on."

Up to 500,000 inserts will be sent out with various publications, such as local evening papers, such as the Edinburgh Evening News, and Scottish weekend broadsheets, such as The Herald and Scotland on Sunday. The campaign, which will run throughout January and the first half of February, is different from previous New Year campaigns, which have traditionally focused on more general cruelty messages, without any particular seasonal spin.

"This is a different approach to those we've tried in the past but has a timely and relevant message for New Year, which we hope will encourage a response from a new audience," said Gus Chalmers, senior account director at WWAV Rapp Collins Scotland.

The campaign is particularly important because the charity is still battling to overcome a funding crisis caused by the decline in the stock market, rising rents and council tax, and a £1m deficit in its pension fund (Third Sector, 2 July 2003).

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