Animal shelters face ‘catastrophic’ influx of unwanted pets

"Take me": The Lost Dogs' Home in Melbourne has launched its summer adoption drive.

"Take me": The Lost Dogs' Home in Melbourne has launched its summer adoption drive. Photo: AAP

Australians on the hunt for a furry friend this summer will have plenty of choice, as adoption shelters fill to the brim with unwanted animals.

Victoria’s The Lost Dogs’ Home has more than 1100 animals in its care across its shelters at Cranbourne in Melbourne’s south-east and North Melbourne, and numbers are rising each day.

The numbers of animals in the organisation’s care has increased 30 per cent this month, compared with January last year.

The Lost Dogs’ Home on Wednesday launched its “Clear the Shelters” summer adoption drive, with adoption fees dropped for animals by about 65 per cent: down to $100 for dogs, and $200 for puppies.

The fees have been reduced down to $25 for cats and $100 for kittens, which make up the bulk of the animals in the organisation’s care.

“The summer months are always a critical time for us because we’re stretched beyond capacity,” The Lost Dogs’ Home spokeswoman Suzana Talevski said.

“There’s a lot of parties, there’s a lot of fireworks, there’s storms – so it culminates in this catastrophic situation with shelters across the country where we’re faced with overwhelming numbers of animals.”

Kitten breeding season was at its peak because people didn’t understand the importance of desexing cats, so cats and kittens were arriving on The Lost Dogs’ Home’s doorstep every day, Ms Talevski said.

People were also returning from their holidays and changing their minds about pets they’d adopted.

“We have stringent policies, but sometimes people don’t tell us the truth about their living situations,” Ms Talevski said.

In South Australia, the RSPCA has had a record number of adoptions in the past 12 months, with more than 6400 – 13 per cent more than in the previous year.

However, a number of animals were coming in at the same time, with more than 1100 animals currently in its care.

“The reason we’re over capacity and bursting at the seams isn’t because of an unwillingness of people to adopt,” a spokeswoman said.

The rental crisis was among reasons people were surrendering their animals in South Australia, the spokeswoman said.

Many were “heartbreakingly” forced to give up their cats and dogs for the sake of getting a roof over their head, while there had been an increased interest in rabbits because of limitations on space.

Western Australia’s RSPCA had also experienced an uptick in animals, with almost 330 in its care.

The vast majority of people who surrendered animals cited cost-of-living pressures, a spokeswoman said.

Tasmania’s RSPCA has seen its usual influx of cats and kittens, with up to 200 so far in its care.


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