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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.