A new litter of puppies has highlighted the burden placed on local companion animal carers – albeit in a very cute way.
These seven mixed-breed pups are only three weeks old and were born within days of carer Melissa Tye taking mum Suzie under her wing.
It makes nine litters of puppies to be left in the care of Animal Welfare League NSW Far South Coast volunteers in the past 12 months – a total of 69 puppies.
That’s in addition to the numerous adult dogs surrendered to or rescued by the branch.
Suzie had actually been surrendered to the local pound by her owner, four weeks pregnant, when AWLFSC became aware of her predicament.
When her first volunteer carer needed to head overseas, Ms Tye took Suzie in, as well as her new brood when they arrived five days later.
Now almost four weeks in, she said they are starting to develop their own personalities and are really endearing.
They will be looked after until about eight weeks old before being offered for adoption. AWLFSC charge $375 for puppies, but that cost covers all puppy vaccinations, vet treatments, microchipping and de-sexing.
In fact, AWLFSC welfare officer Wendy Cook said that fee doesn’t even cover the volunteer group’s outlay for all the veterinary services.
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The group receives no government support and relies on donations and fundraisers to keep operating.
“Only government funding goes to the RSPCA,” Ms Cook said.
“But the head office get all that – the small Sapphire Coast branch here looking after all the cats don’t see any of that funding and do their own fundraising as well.”
While this most recent litter was born while the mother was in care already, others have been dumped en masse to the volunteer group.
I told him, do you realise that 10 pups will cost us around $4000 for us to get them ready [for new owners]. He said ‘oh well, if you don’t want them I’ll just shoot them’.AWLFSC welfare officer Wendy Cook
Ms Cook said one recent example involved 10 bull mastiff puppies surrendered by their owner.
“I told him, do you realise that 10 pups will cost us around $4000 for us to get them ready [for new owners].
“He said ‘oh well, if you don’t want them I’ll just shoot them’.
“That’s what we’re up against.
“A lot of these people are unregistered breeders so they don’t know much about looking after animals well in the first place,” she said.
Ms Cook said they try selling them off first but any not taken off their hands end up at the pound or with carer groups like AWLFSC.
“We've had so many litters this year, mainly because some pet owners are too irresponsible to de-sex their dog and others who actually allow the dog to mate, thinking they'll make money out of selling them.
“This is really exacerbating the problem of backyard breeders and too many unwanted pups.
“It's not the fault of the dog, it's the fault of irresponsible dog owners.
“Thousands of pups and dogs are needlessly destroyed each year because people won't de-sex their dogs and that's a national disgrace.”
It’s been estimated around 250,000 dogs and cats are euthanised every year in Australia. Cats have a far bleaker outcome if taken into care, with around three times the rate of euthanasia than that of dogs.
“The simplest solution would be to have all male dogs desexed,” Ms Cook said.
“It’s a relatively simple operation, takes about 15 minutes and you end up with less roaming, less fighting.
“While a female de-sexing has a lot higher risk and more complex operation.”
AWLFSC offers assistance to some pet owners wishing to have their pet de-sexed. Subsidy application forms are available at all Bega valley Shire vets or the branch can be contacted on 0400 372 609 for more details.
That’s the same number to call if you’re looking to adopt – whether one of these cute puppies, or any of the other puppies and dogs in care at the moment.