While few people wouldn’t relish the chance to spend their working day surrounded by a cavalcade of cute kittens, dozens of dogs and a bevvy of bunnies, for staff at Sutherland Shire Council’s Animal Shelter, things are getting out of hand.

A significant spike in local residents surrendering pets they can no longer care for in the wake of COVID lockdown restrictions easing has sadly seen staff at the shelter swamped with more animals than they are able to house at their Tarren Point facility.

Sutherland Shire Council’s Animal Shelter Team Leader Jeremy Bennett said while staff at the facility were doing an amazing job to ensure all animals in their care are suitably looked after, the facility is under extraordinary strain to house the increased intake.

“We know that for many people, the isolation of being stuck at home during COVID lockdowns seemed like the perfect time to bring home a new pet,” Mr Bennett said.

“Sadly, with most people now returning to work, many people who bought or adopted a pet to keep them company now find that they can’t provide the regular love and attention their pet needs.

“The surge in pets being surrendered to animal shelters is a trend being seen right across Sydney, but it’s hit our Tarren Point shelter particularly hard. We recently had over 120 cats at our Tarren Point shelter in a facility that is just not equipped to deal with those numbers.

“Staff have been compelled to take cats home from work, and to reach out to our network of foster carers to care for cats outside of the shelter to ensure we don’t burst at the seams.”

To help address the issue, staff at the shelter have increased efforts to promote the animals in their care which are ready for adoption via social media, as well as building connections between those looking to surrender pets and prospective new pet owners to rehome animals before they reach the shelter.

“We have been able to rehome a number of the animals in our care and now have around 25 per cent fewer cats in our care than we had when numbers peaked in recent months, but there is still a long way to go before we can provide the optimal environment the animals housed at our shelter,” Mr Bennett said.

“The best environment for any pet to thrive in will always be a happy home with people who can love and care for them and provide them with the attention and exercise they need.

“That’s why our staff work so hard to find a “forever home” for all the animals we look after and go above and beyond to provide them with the best life while they are in our care, and to advise prospective owners on the best pet to suit their individual circumstances.”

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce, lent his support to the renewed effort by Sutherland Shire Council Animal Shelter’s staff and volunteers to rehome the increased number of animals which are now in their care.

Mayor Pesce said while pet ownership was unquestionably a rewarding experience, prospective owners needed to be realistic about their ability to care for a pet long term.

“I can’t imagine life at home without my little mates, my dogs Dexter and Hudson, who has provided countless hours of affection and entertainment for my family over the years, but the reality is that pet ownership is a big responsibility to take on,” Mayor Pesce said.

“For any local residents who are looking to take on this responsibility, I would encourage you to book and appointment with the staff at Council’s animal shelter first to see if there is a furry friend in residence which would be perfect to welcome into your home.”

For those who are ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a new pet, our staff are only too happy to provide advice on what animal is the best for their individual circumstances, and to link them up with the perfect pet.

Animals adopted from the shelter come fully vaccinated, microchipped, registered and de-sexed, and are generally available for a fraction of the price paid to breeders or pet stores.

To adopt a pet, or for more advice on what pet is right for you, phone (02) 9710 0401 (Mon-Fri 11am-4pm, Sat 11am-2pm) and book an appointment to meet with the shelter’s friendly team of staff.