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Dying dogs in “heartbreaking” situations appear to be victims of a cost-of-living crisis, animal control officers say.
The Waikato District Council has seen body scores of 1/5 for 13 dogs in the past three months.
According to the SPCA, malnourished dogs are showing up at the doorsteps of centers across the country.
“This year was really the worst. It’s the worst I’ve seen,” said Amanda, the council’s senior animal control officer, who didn’t want to use her last name for security reasons. I don’t want to think that it hasn’t been done.”
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Amanda has been in the industry for about 15 years and said there were always occasional cases of malnourished dogs, but she had never seen so many dogs at once.
The only explanation she could think of was the increased cost of living.
“People are struggling, but there really are no excuses.”
One dog, found in a moribund condition, was removed from a home in Te Kaufata along with nine others following an anonymous call.
Staff found a handful of small cages, each packed with two or three dogs.
Amanda said they had no shelter from bad weather and lived in their own faeces.
The dog had overgrown claws and acted as if it had never touched the grass.
Foster parents, however, are in short supply and are an important stepping stone for them to find a forever home.
Amanda said dogs are only culled for extreme medical reasons or behavior.
Of 13 emaciated dogs recently encountered in the Waikato district, only one was euthanized.
The tip of the dog’s tail was rotten and extended to the spinal cord. I also had serious behavioral problems.
Amanda said she tries to educate people about what a healthy dog looks like, and that they can hand over their dogs if they can’t be cared for.
“If people are embarrassed, there is a surrender cage of amnesty.”
It is in front of the Ngāruawāhia pound and you can put your dog there.
Amanda encouraged people to report concerns to 0800 492 452.
“We’d rather go there and waste our time or that dog lives a miserable life. It’s everyone’s business and best to call.”
The council had a subsidized gender reassignment program, paying $1 from each registration fee. The cost was $80 and dog registration was also free.
Those who wish to help can donate bedding and toys. This is something many dogs have never experienced before.
The jackets also helped, and the donated food was delivered to people in need in the community.
Sue Kinsella, SPCA’s general manager of operations, said she had seen a number of malnourished dogs in the past six months, which was not uncommon.
“We attribute this to owners not desexualizing the animals and not being able to cope with subsequent births.”
Last week, Hastings Center had adoption day as 24 puppies were rescued.
Tauranga has rescued 33 puppies and adopted 6 dogs. In Northland, puppies were abandoned at her SPCA center almost every day.
The charity urged people to de-gender animals.
Scientific Officer Dr. Alison Vaughan said food was the biggest expense, followed by veterinary bills.
On average, New Zealand dog owners spend between $200 and $499 a year on medical expenses. The total cost of owning a dog was approximately $1500 to $2000 per year.
“Cost is a known barrier to sex reassignment, and the SPCA is especially aware that tight finances, combined with a backlog of sex reassignment surgeries and a shortage of veterinarians due to Covid-19, could cause people to postpone this important procedure. I am worried about something.”
She said that taking care of a dog is expensive. But there were ways to keep costs down.
She encouraged people to use low-cost sex removal services such as SPCA’s Snip ‘n’ Chip.
“Like many things, prevention is better than cure. Preventable health problems and unintended spawning can lead to expensive and unexpected veterinary costs.”
She said keeping pets at optimal weights through proper feeding and exercise, as well as continued vaccinations, regular veterinary check-ups and de-sexing helped keep costs down.
If one day you are faced with a large veterinary bill, setting aside a little money each week or investing in pet insurance can help.
Owners of struggling dogs were encouraged to contact their nearest SPCA center.