New Zealand Animal Shelters Struggle with Surge in Abandoned Dogs: Calls for Strict Breeding Regulations Amplify

by Lisa
The escalating problem of abandoned dogs has posed a considerable burden on animal shelters across Aotearoa, coinciding with the rise in the number of dog breeders and dogs. The country’s animal welfare sector is calling for implementing strict breeding regulations as the situation grows dire.


Dr Alison Vaughn, scientific officer at SPCA, has voiced concern over not only the overpopulation problem but also the potential for poor breeding practices that may adversely affect animal welfare. The organization is keen on a dual regulatory system that ensures breeder licensing and aligns with the existing animal welfare code.


Although there exist certain legal guidelines encompassed under the Animal Welfare Act and Dog Control Act, specific legislation curtailing unchecked backyard breeding is absent. “The current status quo is unacceptable”, asserts Vaughn.


Animal welfare organization, SAFE, shared that the rise in unwanted animals remained a critical concern not only for dogs but also for cats and rabbits. SAFE’s head of investigations, Will Applebe, shed light on the frequent abandonment of backyard-bred dogs, which are often bred in abundance and poor conditions. Many times these animals end up being put down due to the lack of sufficient accommodation at shelters.


He stresses that addressing this national problem mandates governmental intervention. “We shouldn’t be breeding dogs when there are so many unwanted ones in the shelters,” Applebe added.


The Auckland Council’s 2022-2023 report recorded a 5.4% surge in the dog population in the previous year. Elly Waitoa, the council animal management manager, acknowledged the need for legislative action against rampant backyard breeding, emphasizing that dog owners must take responsibility for their pets’ welfare and de-sex them to prevent unwanted litters.”

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