Animal shelters and SPCA struggle as Auckland dog populations soar

May 1, 2024

Animal shelters and SPCA struggle as Auckland dog populations soar

Henderson Animal Shelter is one of three Auckland shelters. Photo: MacCartney Sutherland

Auckland animal shelters and the SPCA are ‘overwhelmed’ with the growing dog population due to irresponsible owners and lack of desexing.

The latest Auckland Council annual animal management report shows the known dog population has increased by 6,779 dogs in the last year, a 5.4 percent increase.

There is estimated to be up to 70,000 unknown dogs in the Auckland region which places an increasing strain on shelter resources and workload.

Emma Ginsberg, Henderson Animal Shelter manager says, “We've got three shelters across Auckland running to capacity every week, between the three of us we're having to move dogs continuously.”

“We're over full, the population in New Zealand is actually overwhelming at the moment.”

The SPCA is also feeling the effects of the increasing dog population says senior advisor of communications Bridget Burke.

“SPCA along with other animal rescues is often overwhelmed with numbers of animals in its care.

“Populations of unplanned litters whose needs cannot be met continue to rise which is why SPCA focuses on desexing.”

Waitemata Local Board member Alexandra Bonham believes that irresponsible ownership and lack of desexing are key factors in the growing dog population

“We can’t be sure of all the reasons for the increase, but more families chose to purchase dogs during Covid and may not have had opportunities to train or socialize them properly.

If a dog is not desexed it is more aggressive, hard to control, and of course will breed given the opportunity. This makes it harder to look after and may lead to them running away.”

Roaming and aggressive dogs have been a concern for Auckland communities who have been affected by the increasing population of dogs, with roaming and aggressive dogs becoming a concern.

“Reports of roaming packs of dogs in South Auckland killing cats are being taken very seriously.”

“Highly aggressive dogs which have attacked people are also a concern as children are the most vulnerable to attack.” says Bonham.

Ginsburg says it is frustrating when owners do not take responsibility and desex their animals even when it’s free.

“It's the want of that individual owner to take responsibility and liability for their dog. If you were offered free desexing, why wouldn't you take it?

But still, they don't show up to their appointment so it's hard and frustrating.”

Both the Council and SPCA have initiatives which provide owners with registered pets free desexing and microchipping services.

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