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Doggone shame: Me or the dog

The past month has seen an increase in the number of dogs in the region being surrendered for rehoming, with owners citing financial stress or housing conflicts.

At Masterton District Council’s Infrastructure and Services committee meeting last week, Animal Services and Bylaws staff said many callers advised that they had been in touch with other rehoming agencies, who were unable to help due to already being overwhelmed.

In 2019-2020, MDC records state 189 dogs were impounded, compared to 239 dogs in 2021-2022.

Where possible, impounded dogs that are not claimed are transferred into the care of rehoming agencies such as SPCA and other Canine Rescue Groups.

Out of the 239 dogs impounded in 2021-2022, 23 were signed over to the SPCA for rehoming, and six were rehomed within the council.

Council staff were concerned there will continue to be an increase in people looking to surrender their dogs or failing to collect their impounded dogs.

The council’s Environmental Services Manager, Terri Mulligan said the dogs the council received had been found roaming by the public or collected by the council.

It was thought the cost of living is the main reason people are unable to look after their pets, but Mulligan also noted that a possible cause could be owners not neutering their dogs.

“We do not tend to take on surrenders generally. Where dogs we find are not claimed by their owners, we work with local agencies to rehome them,” Mulligan said.

“They are better set up to help, and this will ultimately mean a better outcome for the animal.”

The leading issue is what happens when these rehoming agencies are at capacity and overwhelmed by requests.

Mulligan said the council is aware that SPCA and other local rescue agencies are often at capacity but “we continue to work with [SPCA] where we have animals that need rehoming as we do not have the facilities or resources to manage this”.

“We strongly encourage pet owners to neuter their animals where possible,” she said.

SPCA Masterton Centre Manager Rebecca Johnston said the organisation constantly receives requests from members of the public to take their dogs.

“Our centres across the country, including Masterton, remain either near or at capacity when it comes to dogs and puppies,” Johnston said.

“However, our priority is to care for the sick, vulnerable, and injured animals that come into our care.”

Johnston agreed the reason for the increased need for rehoming agencies is due to the cost of living and fewer owners having their dogs desexed.

“Centre teams may be able to offer food, medical advice, flea treatment, and assistance with desexing,” she said.

“We can see there are many people out there struggling and are concerned by the reality that some pet’s needs could get bumped down the household priority list.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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