Auckland animal shelters at full capacity after lockdowns led to boom in puppies and kittens
More animals than ever need adoption across Tāmaki Makaurau after a boom in puppy and kitten births due to the lockdown.
Shelters are either at capacity or closed due to the overwhelming number of animals picked up from the streets or turned in by owners – and managers are desperate to get people to adopt them before the situation worsens.
Elly Waitoa, animal stewardship officer for Auckland council, said the council’s three shelters in Manukau, Silverdale and Henderson were at breaking point.
Between them, the shelters had room for 224 kurī (dogs) and they were seated at around 80% capacity this week.
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Waitoa said it seemed most of the dogs were abandoned because owners couldn’t get them into rental homes or were called back to the office and couldn’t work from home as much.
There are more dogs in Auckland than ever. In 2021, there were 6,000 more dogs than the previous year, and this year 7,000-8,000 more dogs were registered.
That’s about a 10% increase in the total dog population in just two years, Waitoa said.
Pets and strays were not de-sexed at their usual pace during Auckland’s long lockdown in 2021, she said, resulting in litter after litter birth.
“If we keep going up like this, we should expect more stray dogs, causing a nuisance, more dog attacks,” she said.
“If this continues where landlords don’t support pet ownership in their rental properties, it will cause a larger problem for many dog and dog owners, unfortunately.”
The council was desperate to get the dogs adopted. It was his policy never to put down an adoptable dog, preferring to keep him for as long as it took to get him home, she said.
Among the oldest residents was Beanie, a one-year-old staff crusader who had been in the pound for almost seven months.
The council’s canine team also couldn’t stop picking up stray or threatening dogs – they had no choice but to keep filling shelters, Waitoa said.
Partner shelters and animal rescues were also packed, which the council might have relied on before to take in the dogs they couldn’t.
“We haven’t really come across this before,” Waitoa said.
At the Saving Hope Foundation, an independent dog shelter in Silverdale, there were 229 puppies at the center or in foster care on June 24.
In South Auckland, Franklin Cat Rescue had to close its doors to other animals due to the cost of hosting.
This week, 38 dogs were ready for adoption from Auckland Council shelters. They can be viewed on the Town Hall’s Facebook page.