Animal shelters struggling with post-lockdown boom in desexed pets

Animal shelters are grappling with a post-lockdown boom in desexed pets, after two years of COVID restrictions on vet clinics.

They say they're the busiest they've ever been but to make matters worse, fewer people are wanting to adopt.

At Auckland Council's animal shelter in Henderson, you'll struggle to find an empty kennel.

"It's definitely the busiest I've seen it -  just today we've had five more puppies come into the shelter," Auckland Council's shelter manager Nikki Cripps told Newshub.

Auckland Council animal management manager Elly Waitoa said it is the worst they have seen in terms of people wanting to adopt.

"This is definitely unusual. This is the worst year that we've had, particularly with adoption dogs coming in and not being able to get them into their new homes - so they're literally just sitting here."

It's not just Auckland Council shelters full to the brim - the SPCA is too.

"We have double the number of dogs in foster care than what we've had for the past three years," SPCA Auckland support services manager Laura Millar told Newshub.

One of the biggest reasons behind the surge is fewer animals have been desexed, as a result of the Government's COVID-19 restrictions.

Head of veterinary services Sally Cory told Newshub: "Under New Zealand's alert level 4 restrictions, veterinarians were required to deal with cases that could not be postponed. This resulted in routine, non-urgent procedures needing to be delayed until restrictions eased."

"It wasn't classed as an emergency and we're now seeing the on-flowing effect from that," Cripps added.

"So ordinarily, your dog that would be desexed hasn't had the chance to, so it has a litter of puppies," Waitoa said.

As a result, animal shelters have noticed a big surge in puppies at the moment and Millar said it's not just a boom in dogs but cats and rabbits too.

"Most clinics are booked out with their desexing surgery months in advance, so that's just extra months and more opportunity for there to be more unwanted litters," Millar said.

While the number of animals at shelters is going up, the number of people wanting to adopt them is going down.

At Auckland Council's animal shelters, 372 people adopted pets between June 2019 and June 2020.

That number dropped to 328 the following year, and then again in 2022 - to just 319.

Animal shelters across Auckland are encouraging the public to help give the pets a new home.

"Have a look on our Facebook or Instagram page, we've got all of our dogs available on that page," Cripps said.

There's no shortage of cute faces to choose from because all they want is a home filled with love.