Dumping of pets rising: volunteer

Gore and Mataura have a growing problem with abandoned cats and kittens, an animal rehoming group volunteer says.

Furever Homes manager Loanna Mesman, of Edendale, is part of the group which works Southland-wide to foster abandoned animals in the short term and find permanent homes for them.

Ms Mesman said the population of abandoned kittens and cats had "boomed" since the Gore SPCA closed in 2020.

"People have got no place to go.

"They used to sign their [animals] over to the SPCA. Now they just dump them on the side of the road.

"This year has been horrendous."

Southland-wide, the charity was dealing with about 300 cats and kittens a year that were abandoned or needed a new home.

"We feel like we are constantly the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff and we’re constantly banging our head against a wall because nobody wants to be held accountable.

"It is a huge issue."

Furever Homes manager Loanna Mesman, of Edendale, holds five kittens which were found with their...
Furever Homes manager Loanna Mesman, of Edendale, holds five kittens which were found with their abandoned mother on a dairy farm. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

In the 10 years she had been part of the group she had seen many examples of cats in trouble.

During the cleanup after the 2020 flood, Ms Mesman was asked to visit a Mataura resident, who before the flood was feeding 17 cats.

Most were not his and had turned up on his doorstep after being dumped or abandoned.

She arranged for his three cats to be spayed and took the others away for desexing and rehoming.

Some people contacted Furever Homes every year to have unwanted kittens picked up, Ms Mesman said.

"We call them serial offenders."

It was important cats were desexed.

She was prepared to take animals to the vet or help in any way she could so cats did not have to suffer.

Furever Homes, which did not have access to government funding, seemed to be the only group dealing with the problem.

SPCA area manager Sophie McSkimming said stray cat populations were an issue nationwide.

"We’re in the midst of a busy kitten season and many of our centres are full with kittens and pregnant cats, with new ones coming in each day."

The group would always take in animals that needed help.

"SPCA’s remit is to care for sick, injured, abused and neglected animals — these animals are our main priority.

"We simply do not always have capacity to take in people’s healthy pets that they wish to surrender," Ms McSkimming said.

The Gore SPCA has been closed for more than a year, as it was unfit for purpose, but the SPCA’s services were available through its partnership with VetSouth.

The SPCA was also a charity and received less than 5% government funding, which had to be spent on the inspectorate arm of the group.



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