McLaren Falls Park has become a dumping ground for unwanted pets and animals, with about 70 animals dumped a year.

Chickens, roosters, dogs, cats and pigs were among dumped animals - most recently 18 hand-fed ducks were abandoned at the park.

Tauranga City Council parks and recreation manager Mark Smith said animals were dumped in other parks too, but it was hard to quantify because those parks did not have staff 24/7.

Most of the dumped animals were chickens and roosters, but there have been dogs and cats and one year a pig was left behind.

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"Hand-reared animals simply can't fend for themselves," he said.

The animals face starvation and death if set free into the wild after a life lived in the care of humans.

Mr Smith said native birds that are found go to a local woman in Oropi who ran a bird rescue, and locals or park visitors often rehomed chickens.

Dogs went to Western Bay of Plenty District Council's animal control team.

ARRC director and veterinarian Dr Liza Schneider says Tauranga's irresponsible animal ownership is an ongoing issue. Photo/File
ARRC director and veterinarian Dr Liza Schneider says Tauranga's irresponsible animal ownership is an ongoing issue. Photo/File

The 18 ducks dumped in the park last week were successfully rehomed by volunteers after the city council made a plea for help.

Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre founder Dr Liza Schneider said irresponsible animal ownership was a massive issue people needed to be better educated about.

She said owning a pet was like having a child.

People needed to make sure they had the right accommodation for the animal, and the finances to pay for food and potential vet visits.

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The renting shortage and housing instability rampant in Tauranga only made the issue worse - many people do not live in stable accommodation and often landlords do not want pets in their rental.

"A lot of people with pets have a change in their lifestyle or circumstances or they realise owning a pet is a bigger responsibility than they thought and they want an easy way to get rid of the animal," Dr Schneider said.

She said dumping cats was a problem because they hunted wildlife for food and were often not desexed.

"Everyone needs to play their part so animals are better valued in society so this kind of thing [dumping animals] does not happen."

Dr Schneider said people with unwanted pets needed to do everything possible to rehome it first - advertising on TradeMe or at vet clinics, or talking to friends and networks.

"When you have tried everything then animal organisations like the SPCA or other rehoming groups may step up and help but often those organisations are inundated because so many people dump their animals."