THE manager of a local animal shelter says she has seen a huge increase in pet surrenders due to the worsening housing crisis in the region.
Maddy Chesworth, who runs the Animal Rights and Rescue Groups shelter in Lismore, says up to 80 percent of surrender and foster enquiries they are receiving are due to housing difficulties.
She says people are finding it extremely difficult to find a rental that will accept pets, or to find a house at all.
"Just in the past couple of months it's really picked up," she says.
"It can be up to ten calls or emails a day in regards to people seeking help."
"We're hearing from people who are either trying to surrender their animals because they've got to move up or down the coast or out of the area, or are seeking just temporary care."
"Some people are living in motels, some are living out of cars, some are jumping around from place to place just until they can get in and find a place that'll take them in."
Ms Chesworth says pet owners are often looking for a foster carer for just a few weeks, but their inability to find a new home means this period can stretch out to months.
"We're getting caught out because we've got the (animals) in temporary care but then it's taking them six or more months or more to find a place.
The shelter is also seeing growing numbers of abandoned animals: "We've had a few cats come in that have just been abandoned at the old property because they've had to move out and couldn't find a place that would take an animal, so they just leave them."
She says the increase in those seeking foster care for their animals has coincided with dwindling numbers of carers.
"Towards the beginning of COVID it was really good and we had a lot of people offering to be foster carers and taking on animals because they were home a lot, but now the tables have turned and now people are having trouble either buying houses or renting anything so we've lost a lot of foster carers," she says.
"Towards the beginning of COVID we had a lot of people offering to be foster carers and taking on animals because they were home a lot, but now the tables have turned."Maddy Chesworth
The situation is putting pressure on the volunteer-run shelter, which is also trying to rehouse general surrenders and animals from domestic violence situations.
"One will go out and get adopted and then we'll have another six waiting to come in."