NZ Herald;Katherine Irvine, Dec 27 2010
Auckland’s SPCA is gearing up to receive more than 1000 animals that will arrive over the busy Christmas/New Year season.
Operations manager Tracy Dunn says up to 100 animals are arriving every day – and that number is expected to increase as owners hand over unwanted pets before going away for the summer break.
Mrs Dunn says the SPCA has been inundated with cats and is struggling to find foster homes for kittens too young to live in the shelter.
There are 128 cats and kittens available for adoption, and a further 420 in foster care.
The Herald today launches its annual Adopt Me series.
Each day through summer, an animal available for adoption at the SPCA’s Mangere shelter will befeatured.
Today, we bring the stories of 25 animals rescued this year.
Some have found new homes and others are living permanently with the SPCA.
Mrs Dunn said kitten season had come early this year because a mild winter and record-high November temperatures had triggered an earlier-than-usual start to the breeding season.
“During these long summers, female cats have up to three litters, or around 10 kittens during one breeding season,” she said.
Finding a home for older cats at the shelter was a challenge when there were many cute and fluffy kittens also available.
But Mrs Dunn said 2010 had been a manageable year for the dog population at the SPCA.
The number of dogs coming in had decreased and the number adopted had increased in comparison with the previous year.
“I’m not really sure why that is but it is a season thing.”
Dog numbers were higher through the winter months and cat numbers peaked in the summer.
Mrs Dunn said animal abuse was on the lower end of the scale this year.
She hoped an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act that will double sentences and fines would deter cruelty and neglect.
“The majority of cases we see is animals that have not been looked after or are in need of veterinary attention. It comes down to a lack of education and sometimes financial restraints, but none of it is an excuse.”
SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge said the society had introduced its “saving lives” campaign in a bid to find homes for all 17,259 cats and dogs that have come through the SPCA shelter this year.
The SPCA has recently started working with Animates, which has nine Auckland pet stores, to help keep kitten numbers at the shelter under control.
Mr Kerridge said that next year, the SPCA would look at fostering dogs into prisons, where inmates would be responsible for looking after and training their own animal – a programme that has proven successful overseas.
He hopes the SPCA’s desexing education programme and the more than 6000 desexing operations done at the on-site clinic have an effect on the animal population, but admits numbers will always be a problem.
“We live in a bubble where we hope we have reduced the surplus. But when one cat can produce 20 kittens in a season, it will always be a never-ending challenge.”