Dog Rescue faces avalanche of pets

Dog Rescue Dunedin handler Anna Broad (left) and co-ordinator Jo Pollard, with rescued dogs Rosie and Joss at the dog park at Forrester Park. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dog Rescue Dunedin handler Anna Broad (left) and co-ordinator Jo Pollard, with rescued dogs Rosie and Joss at the dog park at Forrester Park. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Dunedin dog owners need to take responsibility and neuter their dogs, Dog Rescue Dunedin says as the city's pet rescue organisations are inundated with rejected dogs this winter.

The number of unwanted dogs in Dunedin was a huge problem, Dog Rescue Dunedin co-ordinator Dr Jo Pollard said. The charitable trust usually hosted eight to 12 dogs at a time, but was now fostering 23 ''dumped dogs''.

Dr Pollard was disappointed Dunedin dog owners were using the trust as a dumping ground for unwanted pets and urged owners to budget for neutering before the problem grew.

''It's pretty extreme. For a little, tiny charity it is a huge challenge. I think we are being used as a dumping ground.''

Dr Pollard believed dogs were being dumped because dog owners faced a $90 registration fee, due at the end of this month.

''Many people are more aware of the Dog Rescue Trust and now think it will be OK to leave their dogs with us and someone else will just take care of them.''

The dogs left with the trust varied in age and were mostly in good health.

Dr Pollard was concerned that out of 151 dogs that had been fostered since December 2011, only five had been handed in desexed.

''People taking in a dog need to realise that desexing the animal is a significant cost they need to prepare for.''

The trust, which is run solely on donations and voluntary man-hours, would struggle if dog numbers did not decrease.

For every dog handed in, the trust spent, on average, between $400 and $500 on bills such as immunisations, neutering and general healthcare, she said.

''We are at capacity, really.''

Dr Pollard had recently turned away several dog owners wanting to leave their pets with the trust.

The most common ''excuses'' from people discarding dogs were that they were moving; problems with their landlords; or they had taken the pet because they had concerns for its wellbeing.

The Dunedin SPCA also had had an influx of dog owners dropping off pets.

SPCA executive officer Sophie Mcskimming said in one case a litter of six puppies was left on the doorstep.

She noticed more dogs had been dropped off since winter began and again as dog registrations approached.

The Dog Rescue Trust, along with the ANZ Staff Foundation and 10 vet clinics around Dunedin, were offering a discounted desexing programme for owners in need.

The Star Foundation recently gave $2400 towards the programme.

Responsible pet owners

If people can't take responsibility for their pets, they don't deserve to have them.

I was in a situation recently where because of a marriage breakdown, my husband left me with his dog that he had only had for a few weeks. I already had my dog Meg and my 4 cats and I was facing surgery for cancer. A few weeks later, I asked the SPCA if they could find a home for my husband's dog, but they couldn't help me. So then I phoned the DCC to find out if I could try to find a home for this little dog when she was registered in my husband's name. So they changed the ownership to my name because they said she was legally mine because she was on my property.

The very next day I received an account from them for $88 for her registration fee. I would then have received another account from the DCC asking for another $80 or so for kennel charges  because I owned more than one dog. So I then placed an ad in the ODT looking for a kind home for her. The next day the police rang me telling me that my husband wanted his dog back because he'd seen my ad in the ODT.

The constable told me that I couldn't give the dog away because she was part of the matrimonial property. From that ad I received two replies from people who wanted to give this wee dog a kind home. But when I returned home from hospital appointments today, she was gone. As far as I know my husband has her.

I had no empathy from the DCC who just seemed to want to make my situation even more difficult. As for the police response, well that really astounded me. My pets are not part of the chattels like a piece of my furniture, like the constable was implying. I was in a situation where I could not possibly care for more than one dog because of my health and financial situation. I acted responsibly by trying to find a caring home for this dog. Now I don't know where she is or if she is being cared for. [Abridged]


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