Northland animal rescues are calling on locals to volunteer as fosters as the summer period has pushed them to their limits.
Ruakākā Dog Rescue trustee Jackie Boyd said they are "totally reliant on fosters" - they can't take dogs in without them.
"We are always being pushed to our limit."
Boyd said until desexing becomes consistent and standard practice, the cycle of unwanted animals in need of fosters and permanent homes in Northland will continue.
"I've been doing it for coming up to eight years now and it's quite disheartening."
As of now, charities like the Ruakākā Dog Rescue rely on people like long-time dog fosterer Michelle Payne.
Since Payne started fostering puppies on a whim three years ago she hasn't stopped, although she admits her first foster dog, Boston, was a "fail" because she ended up keeping him.
"Since then I've gone on to foster probably about 16 puppies, and it's difficult to pass them on but it's really rewarding."
Boston helps Payne keep fostered puppies, like Rolly, in line.
"Every time I pass one on I'm saving two lives because I'm opening up a space in my home to bring in another one."
Payne has cared for puppies who are traumatised, neglected, sick, as well as puppies whose owners simply just can't take care of anymore.
"It's one of the most rewarding things that you can do and it does take a special person."
Each rescue has different requirements for fosters depending on the type of animal and its age, but when it comes to puppies, Payne emphasises that one-on-one time is crucial.
"It really suits people like retirees, people who work from home, maybe stay at home parents."
Payne says the community at Ruakākā Dog Rescue is strong and they are always a phone call or a Facebook post away for fosters if they need help.
"We support each other, we laugh together, we cry together... we're a real family."
SPCA Area Manager Margaret Rawiri said the number of animals rescued is particularly high in Northland, where the SPCA has centres in Kerikeri, Kaitāia and Whangārei.
"We do tend to see a high level of stray, abandoned, neglected or abused animals in Northland and as a result, our resources are often stretched.
"In Northland, we are in great need of new foster volunteers. We have an incredible network of people who open their homes to animals in need already, but the reality is we desperately need more."
Waipū Wandering Angels Animals Sanctuary founder Michele Clarke said looking for adequate fosters is difficult while having to take care of several animals.
She said the challenging circumstance prevents her from taking more animals in.
"Fosters are hard to come by, especially if it's older dogs... I've given up at the moment because I'm just too busy."
Clarke socialises and assesses the dogs she looks after with cats, cows, lambs and chickens to match them up with the correct foster family, a long process that she's dedicated to.
Clarke is connected to fosters across the country, including in Auckland and Queenstown, as part of her commitment to removing dogs from the cycle of rehoming.
"I need to make sure they don't end back up in the pound again."
Northlanders can help the SPCA and other rescue charities by fostering animals, which can hit the pocket less than donating as blankets, cages and food are provided.
Fostering animals frees up beds, cages and staff at the SPCA and rescues for more animals, particularly ones who need more urgent care.
Rawiri said bringing the animal into a home environment helps to prepare for when the time comes for them to be adopted into a loving forever home.
A list of Northland animal rescues can be found here.
If you can't foster, Northlanders can help reduce the number of animals needing to be fostered by ensuring their pets are desexed and encouraging those around them to do the same.
You can report neglected, unregistered or problem dogs to your council Animal Control and/or the SPCA to ensure early intervention, which will increase the chances that these dogs can be rehomed and not euthanised.