An animal welfare advocate is pleading with the public to rethink decisions to adopt a pet during lockdowns with dogs being surrendered at alarming rates.
Tay Ljiljak of the Best Friends For Ever Rescue Illawarra said in the past year the not-for-profit had seen a rise in people surrendering animals - mostly as a result of the COVID pandemic in some way - and now have a wait list of dogs that are to be given up.
"People have adopted dogs from pounds ... and now they're no longer wanting to keep them," she said. "[Others are] from individuals who have either lost jobs or not able to afford having a dog due to the lockdown and loss of income."
Miss Ljiljak has been with the BFF rescue agency since 2018 and said never before had she seen people trying to "return" adopted dogs (unless in dire circumstances) until after the original lockdown finished in 2020.
Anxiety and behavioural problems had become a large problem, she said, with dogs' daily routines put in turmoil after having a family member home all the time to now spending eight or more hours a day on their own.
Rather than working with the animal and training them owners have instead taken the option to get rid of their pet.
"A lot of them have been breeds that are known to need activity and something to help with the boredom when theyre alone," Miss Ljiljak said. "We've has a lot of local people wanting to surrender kelpies, working dogs and staffies."
Miss Ljiljak also said the BFF service is in desperate need of foster carers to cater for the long line of surrendered dogs but is calling for people who can care for large, active dogs.
"We do get overwhelmed with a lot of offers to foster small dogs," she said. "The biggest issue of thse large dops not given an opp to show they are good dogs ... and we will be there every step of the way to provide support."