THE sharp increase in the cost of living during the past two years has seen an increase in people having to rehome their pets, according to the rehoming organisation Furever Homes.
Furever Homes chairperson Donna Keil said financial hardship had been a leading factor in driving people to surrender their pets, especially in recent months, and the organisation had been taking in new animals at least every second day.
“We’ve even had the extreme where someone’s had to put their animal down because they thought there were no other options.”
The first step in the surrendering process was for Furever Homes to ask the owners what the organisation could do to help them hold on to their pets, with many owners asking about temporary fostering, she said.
“It’s really traumatic for the animals as well, because they’re being taken out of a stable situation and suddenly everything’s different.”
The organisation also helped owners with providing food and other help where they could, including assisting people in isolation, she said.
While rehoming organisations have seen an increase in taking on pets, the Invercargill City Council’s (ICC) dog impoundments have almost halved compared to the same time last year, with the same total number of surrenders, although there has been a slight increase in the amount of dogs being rehomed.
“The increase we are seeing in dog owners not collecting their dogs or surrendering them is being seen across the South Island,” ICC group manager customer and environment Trudie Hurst said.
“Rehoming agencies are repeatedly telling us that they are full, resulting in us having to hold dogs for longer periods of time awaiting a space for them.”
Furever Homes is a nonprofit organisation and relies on volunteers and fundraising, which Mrs Keil said had also been difficult to continue during the pandemic, with the organisation relying on collection tins at local businesses, and donations made by supporters.
“If we have an animal we’re desperate for help with, we make a post on the page and then we get people donating and that’s their way of helping.
“The money comes when you’re doing the right thing and our focus is helping people and helping the animals.”
Most of the people surrendering their animals have been reluctant to do so, and many of the pets have been older animals that the owners have had for years.
“For some people, they’re too scared to post [for help] on social media because they just get hammered and abused with,’ hpw could you give up your dog?’.
“They’re not bad animal owners, they’re amazing owners.”