Rotorua SPCA staff are being abused and emotionally blackmailed with threats of killing animals when turning away those trying to offload unwanted pets.
The issue is the worst it has been and the city's rental shortage is a major contributor, according to SPCA animal manager Karen Rolfe and Bay of Plenty community cat project co-ordinator Maureen Wallace.
"Rental properties are scarce so landlords can afford to be picky with their tenants. We have a lot more people coming to the SPCA to try get rid of their pets, saying they can't find a house that will allow animals," Ms Wallace said.
"The front office staff get all kinds of abuse when they turn those people away. The f-word and c-word are thrown around quite often, but it's not just the yelling, it's the emotional blackmail.
There was a case not that long ago where a dog was brought in that the SPCA couldn't take because it was a healthy, well-fed pet. The owner turned around and said, 'if you don't take it I'm going to kill it' - how are the staff meant to react in that situation?"
Ms Rolfe said she'd had tins of cat food thrown at her and had to have abusive members of the public trespassed.
"We are constantly being abused. People think their pets are disposable and when we tell them we don't have the room to take them on, they get very aggressive."
She said the shelter was currently at full capacity, with about 200 animals.
Ms Wallace said people abandoning their cats when they moved was also common.
"It's easy for people to leave cats behind rather than go through the struggle of trying to find a rental property that will allow pets. That's when the cat colonies start appearing which is a major community issue, particularly in areas that have a high turnover of tenants."
Both Ms Wallace and Ms Rolfe said landlords should consider easing restrictions on pets to help solve the problem of pet dumping.
Rotorua Rentals co-director Richard Evans said the current rental market may have exacerbated the problem, but it was not landlords' responsibility to solve the issue.
"If a person is renting and decides to get a pet, they have to live with the consequences. It is their right to get a pet, just as it is the right of a landlord to decide they do not want animals on their property."
Mr Evans said of all the properties his business managed, only about 1 per cent allowed pets.
Renter Rebecca Skipwith has been trying to find a new place for the last couple of months after being given an ultimatum by her property manager - either get rid of her dog, Indy or move out. She considered putting Indy up for adoption but could not go through with it.
"She's my baby. . . I can't get rid of her."
Tips for re-homing your pet:
• Take great photos showing your pet at its best.
• Describe your pet's personality in detail.
• Consider approaching friends or family for a temporary home to ease the pressure.
• Get the message out - advertise online, post on Facebook, create a flyer, put a listing in the newspaper.
- SPCA New Zealand