The arrival of three donkeys at the Unanderra RSPCA was a first for shelter manager Judith Wright.
"I've been here 17 years and hadn't had a donkey yet," she said.
Though the donkeys were yet to go through their final check before being put up for adoption, Ms Wright said they made wonderful pets for anyone with a paddock to keep them in.
"They're a bit hardier than horses, they don't need their teeth and hooves done as often," she said. "They really are a pet to put in a paddock, not something to use as a show pony, and they are very good from a point of view in protecting other animals on a property, like sheep, as they do like to chase off dogs and foxes."
Though these were the first donkeys to cross Ms Wright's path, the Illawarra shelter often found homes for animals other than cats and dogs.
In the past, goats, sheep and horses had been rehomed, and at the moment, there were several cockatiels, guinea pigs, rabbits and a rooster looking for a new family.
"Guinea pigs are becoming more of a popular pet in the last year or two and unfortunately, they do breed quite quickly," Ms Wright said. "If people get them and don't realise they've got different sexes, that causes some breeding and they end up with pets they can't look after.
"It's a good idea if they do get rabbits or guinea pigs, to get the males desexed at least so there isn't any risk of breeding."
Since the start of the year, 462 animals had been adopted from the Illawarra branch.
Ms Wright said they were aiming to find homes for 900 pets this year, to beat last year's result of 802.