A mother dog with eight hungry offspring. Two puppies dumped in freezing conditions on a Taupō roadside. Kittens, kittens, everywhere.

That's the situation at two of the three animal charities in the Taupō district, which are struggling to cope with the numbers of animals they're receiving.

Hardest hit is Tūrangi Animal Care, with manager Stacy Lewis saying the shelter is full and has had to turn some animals away.

The charity used to send some of its animals for adoption to Animates pet shops in Auckland or Christchurch but Stacy said when Air New Zealand stopped taking cats as cargo, it lost that option which was its "saving grace" in managing the numbers of animals in the shelter.


"I'll drive as far as Hamilton or Tauranga but I won't go to Auckland so I'm limited in what I'm able to take," says Stacy. "And I'm my own worst enemy because I help the pound whenever they ask.

"In June they had a mother dog in the pound who had eight pups and she was unclaimed and so I've taken her and the pups and they've sat here percolating for two months before I could offer them out for rehoming... I'm haemorrhaging puppy biscuits to feed them but the mother's a lovely dog.

"At the moment I have 16 pups and a dog and I've got 12 kittens and cats and three mother cats and three in foster."

Last year in total, Tūrangi Animal Care took in 220 animals. By the end of July 26 they had already done 178, an increase, on average, of seven animals more per month. At the same time last year it had dealt with 125.

Stacy says there have been a lot of puppies and a lot of cats this year and Tūrangi Animal Care is receiving them from the whole central plateau area, from Ōhakune and Taumarunui.

"People are abandoning cats. They move and leave them behind. I've got six from Ōhakune that got left behind and I'm the closest (rescue)."

Added to that, cats are breeding year round rather than just during the warmer months.

"It's just not getting cold enough, it's not knocking them back. I took in a kitten yesterday that's quite sickly and we're going to trap the mother cat, desex and return her but the lady who brought the kitten in said this is [the cat's] third litter since September. And the puppies are coming all year round."


However Stacy is quick to add she is grateful for the support of the local community and Tūrangi Animal Care's dozen or so volunteers, although more are needed.

"Since November I've been adopting out close to 20 animals a month which has been fantastic."

The only answer to the problem is animal desexing, which is offered at a hefty discount ($30 for cats, $80 for dogs) for community services card holders at Tūrangi VetEnt and Taupō Vet Clinic thanks to funding from PAWS and the support of Tūrangi VetEnt.

Tūrangi Animal Care also receives funding every three months from Pelorus Trust to desex animals.

"We are desexing hundreds of cats and probably 90 dogs per annum and we just can't keep up," Stacy says. "Not being able to afford it should not be an excuse.

"The council has funds for desexing dangerous dogs and people can contact an animal shelter or vet clinic to ask about desexing options."

Taupō SPCA animal care coordinator Sarah Hydes says the SPCA's Animal Centre is not currently full but "we certainly have more animals on our books than the same time last year."

At Taupō-based CARE Community Animal Rescue & Education, operations manager Helen Rabinska says the shelter is "completely inundated" at what is normally a quiet time of the year, putting a big strain on resources and volunteers.

The charity is constantly being asked to rescue unwanted animals, including two puppies that were dumped on waste land next to Taupō's AC Baths on the evening of Monday, August 5 in freezing conditions.

One of two puppies in poor condition found abandoned on waste land in Taupo in freezing conditions last week. Photo / Supplied
One of two puppies in poor condition found abandoned on waste land in Taupo in freezing conditions last week. Photo / Supplied

"We had them both in a foster home, warmed and fed within an hour. While not at death's door, they looked like they had been dumped for over 30 hours or so, they were very cold, dehydrated and had lost quite a lot of condition - and they were out there during all that cold weather and hail storms," Helen says.

Helen and volunteers went back to the area to see whether there were more puppies but were unable to find any.

"Sometimes the more reserved ones are too frightened to come out of the undergrowth - it is heart breaking. Earlier this year kittens had been dumped there. A member of the public alerted us had they had been seen. When we got there they had died. Just terrible."