An Auckland rescue shelter has issued a desperate plea to animal owners after taking in 78 abandoned puppies.
Janine Hinton, co-founder of the Saving Hope Foundation, says more dogs must be desexed to avoid unwanted animals being dumped.
"It's disgraceful the way these dogs are treated," she told Newshub. "It's disgraceful that we do not get a big desexing campaign going and just keep going.
"We've got so many puppies that are being born that shouldn't be born."
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The influx of pups has put a strain on the Dairy Flat shelter, which takes in stray animals, gets them into foster homes before putting them up for adoption when they're ready. Saving Hope has been overwhelmed with abandoned animals in the last few months, and two dogs living at the shelter are expected to give birth in May.
Last week a litter of six malnourished puppies was brought in after they were found in a "wet cold shed" outside Rotorua.
"I cried my eyes out washing those pups," Hinton says. "I was covered in flea bites, most of our teams were covered in flea bites. When we raced them off to the vet afterwards the fleas were crawling up the vets. How can people do this?"
Unwanted dogs turn up to Saving Hope from all around the North Island, even as far south as Hastings and Taranaki. Since July 2017, the shelter has rehomed 371 puppies and dogs.
Hinton says without funding, they have to rely on an "amazing base of supporters" as well as putting on regular fundraisers to help pay for the costs of rehabilitating the animals.
"Our supporters and our team are amazing, they work so hard and I think they need to be acknowledged."
But she says it's not enough - the Government needs to act on desexing to prevent overpopulation and unwanted births.
"The laws need to change, the laws need to tighten up. Owners should be held accountable, they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it."
If Hinton can get the resources together, she's got a plan to help reduce the problem of New Zealand's many unwanted animals.
"I would really like to raise funds to try and get a couple of desex vans and I would send them up North to start, and I would like to just work my way around New Zealand."
She wants to drive the message home to Kiwis that not neutering their animals is a form of mistreatment.
"We need to have desexing, we need to stop this population and we need to stop the abuse."