THE Warrnambool RSPCA has welcomed the arrival of 10 healthy, happy puppies that are looking for their new forever homes.
The litter was born at the shelter shortly after mum Millie, a kelpie/koolie-cross, was surrendered to the council.
With coronavirus upending many people's living situations, the RSPCA has seen a spike animal surrenders to its shelters.
Warrnambool RSPCA's Isabella Hodge is fostering Millie and the puppies until they are old enough to be adopted.
"Originally Millie came into our care through an owner surrendering her to the local council, which we've been getting a lot of lately due to the difficult circumstances people have fallen into due to COVID," she said.
"She came in to us at the full term of her pregnancy and we have taken her in with open arms, there's no judgement if someone needs to surrender one or more animals to us.
"We understand circumstances can change for so many reasons, and surrendering your animals to the RSPCA is the right thing and the best chance to get them into a forever home."
Ms Hodge said the puppies were nearly five-weeks-old and were thriving.
Each puppy, and Millie, are available for adoption at $440 each which covers their early desexing, micro-chipping and veterinary health checks. They will be ready for adoption in four weeks.
"The small adoption fee doesn't go a long way when you consider the food and veterinary care we give the animals," Ms Hodge said.
"RSPCA is based 90 per cent on donations and in the current climate we've been hit hard and would greatly appreciate any and all donations.
"That's why we set fees for our animals, it means we can continue to do the work that we do and ensure the high standard of animal welfare is met."
Ms Hodge said it drove home the importance of getting your animal desexed.
"As cute as these puppies are the main important message is that it's very important to desex animals, whether it's cats or dogs, to avoid the inevitable outcome of unwanted litters," she said.
"It's not fair on the animals and puts a lot of unnecessary physical strain on the animals and financial strain on owners, especially when it comes to a litter of 10 like this one.
"We're coming into kitten season, undesexed female cats can give birth to four-to-six kittens each litter and can have three litters in one season alone. An unspayed cat can produce 400,000 cats in its lifetime."
As cute as these puppies are the main important message is that it's very important to desex animals, whether it's cats or dogs, to avoid the inevitable outcome of unwanted litters.Isabella Hodge
A positive outcome of the pandemic has been more animal adoptions.
"Our animals are in some of the smallest numbers because people are wanting to adopt, they're getting out the door as quick as ever to get into their perfect homes," Ms Hodge said.
"We're always looking for foster carers and now with the easing of restrictions we can take more people on.
"Our foster program is open to anyone, you certainly don't have to work for the RSPCA like I do to do it.
"I couldn't highly recommend it more, opening your home to animals in need is the most rewarding experience."
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