An influx in animals received by Greater Shepparton’s animal shelter during the holiday season has pushed available space at the facility toward capacity.
The increase has forced managers to reinforce the importance of desexing, registering pets and practising responsible pet ownership.
The shelter’s cats and kittens area was at capacity following the holiday season, while less than 10 dog enclosures remain vacant.
On Wednesday alone the shelter received 18 kittens, capping off an extremely busy couple of months.
And while the influx stretches resources, managers were ‘‘confident it doesn’t impact our results at the shelter’’.
Council’s citizen services manager Laurienne Winbanks highlighted a number of causes for the influx.
She believed some owners had neglected to put in place measures for pets to be looked after while they were away on holidays.
Furthermore, she speculated some people may have been unaware of the realities of welcoming an animal into their home before buying or being gifted a furry companion for Christmas.
While the push towards capacity for the shelter was manageable, Ms Winbanks stressed the importance for animals to be registered to ensure pets were returned to owners, and desexed to limit breeding and further stress on the centre.
Ms Winbanks said the centre had been contacted about litters needing to be surrendered, especially before Christmas.
Since then, they had been inundated partly because pet owners have not made holiday arrangements.
This was compounded by the fact it was ‘‘kitten season’’.
‘‘When people surrender a litter, they need to surrender the mum ... (otherwise) it encourages further overpopulation of domestic cats,’’ Ms Winbanks said.
Educating people on responsible pet ownership remained a priority for the shelter, alongside ensuring new owners were aware a pet is ‘‘a lifelong commitment’’.
‘‘It’s really important a family is ready for an animal, it’s critical they’re well educated before they take on that responsibility,’’ Ms Winbanks said.
Ms Winbanks said the shelter would happily accept unwanted animals instead of them being left, opening the potential for them ‘‘to breed and create further litters’’.
‘‘We don’t want to see a whole lot of animals not have homes,’’ she said.
Last year, the centre was commended for its work in reducing euthanasia over a 10-year period to a point where it was no longer being used to control overpopulation.
This compared with the 2007-08 financial year when more than 50 per cent of dogs at the shelter were euthanised.
This rate has recently dropped to as low as eight per cent, many of which were cases to control the spread of illness and dangerous animals.
Ms Winbanks said the time was ideal now for owners to ensure their pets were desexed and microchipped.
‘‘If you haven’t registered the animal for the past couple years, there’s no recourse, we just want you to come in and register them,’’ she said.