Spike in animal surrenders as financial pressures mount for Darwin dog owners

Darwin 0800

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, 30 pet owners took their animals to a shelter in an industrial area in Darwin, trying to give them up.

Key points:

  • PAWS Darwin has been overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to surrender their pets
  • The shelter says people are surrendering their pets due to financial difficulty
  • It currently has 100 animals and is at capacity

“One person rocked up at I don’t know, 3:00pm and said I’m getting on a plane at 5:30pm, I need to leave my dog here,” said the operations manager at PAWS Darwin, Lisa Hansen.

The “crazily busy” festive season capped off a period where Ms Hansen, who’s been at PAWS for 15 years, says she’s increasingly seen people giving up their animals because they’re struggling financially.

“I think we’ve probably heard about every excuse,” she said.

“Losing their income has played a bigger role this year than I’ve ever noticed before.


Lisa Hansen says the shelter has been at capacity for the last month. (ABC News: Emilie Gramenz)

“There’s a lot more people saying, ‘hey, we need help’ … it’s just hard when you don’t have enough to feed the kids or feed yourself or do what you need to do, sometimes it can be hard to look after your pets as well.

“Obviously you can’t blame people for that.”

PAWS has 100 animals currently being fostered and Ms Hansen says their shelter has been at capacity for the last month — but the community has been generous in its support over Christmas.

“We haven’t had to buy a spot of food thanks to the people of Darwin. We can’t do that many animals without the people in Darwin.”

‘Really concerning’ trend

The Litchfield Council, which covers a large swathe of Darwin’s rural area, recently impounded 23 dogs in seven days — more than they’d usually round up in a fortnight.

“We only had three dogs that were de-sexed out of the 23, and we only had 5 that were registered to owners,” said Litchfield Council infrastructure and operations director Nadine Nilon.


Ms Hansen says she “can’t blame” people who give up their pets because they are struggling, but wants all the animals in her shelter to find homes. (ABC News: Emilie Gramenz)

“That’s really concerning that only eight [people] had done anything about looking after their dogs and being responsible dog owners.”

Litchfield Council does provide vouchers towards the cost of de-sexing to ease the financial burden.

“We’ve got about 60 left at the moment, where people can come and get a voucher for $100 off their de-sexing costs,” said Ms Nilon.

Darwin City Council had five dogs surrendered after Christmas.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news

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