Pet surrenders are rapidly increasing as COVID restrictions lift, leading to animal welfare issues and mounting pressure on rescues and shelters.
The Warrnambool RSPCA shelter is as busy as usual, with eight dogs and upwards of 80 cats that have been surrendered looking for forever homes.
Shelter supervisor Tracey Patterson said one of those was 10-month-old kelpie Hope, who was found under a Warrnambool house weighing just six kilograms.
"We've seen an increase in animals in bad condition," Ms Patterson said.
"One came in weighing six kilograms, an adult kelpie.
"She could walk no more than 10 metres before collapsing.
"Now we've doubled her weight - she's up over 13 kilograms now.
"She's super loyal, intelligent and needs a single dog home and an owner who has the energy required for a kelpie and to do dog school and socialisation.
"Also on the same day we had a litter of kittens come in that were put at the bottom of a rubbish bin, then bottles were thrown on top of them.
"The garbage man bought them in."
The Warrnambool shelter saw a big decrease over the COVID-19 pandemic in animal surrenders.
Numbers have crept back up to pre-pandemic levels.
"What we are seeing of the ones coming in is they're quite unsocialised.
"They haven't had the opportunity to do puppy school or go out and meet other dogs in dog parks.
"This time of year we are always getting lots of cats with kitten season coming to an end
"We've got eight surrendered dogs here at the moment and about 80 cats.
"We encourage people to come and have a look."
Ms Patterson reminded people the RSPCA team were there to help.
"If people are finding it financially difficult and can't afford to feed their animals please come and see us or give us a ring.
"Come and talk to us, we can help you out.
"If you're in a situation where you can't keep your animals any more we can help out with rehoming."
Ms Patterson said socialising dogs was important for their development.
"What we've seen lately highlights just how important it is.
"They learn to meet other dogs and not be scared of them - they learn from other dogs how to interact.
"They have a lot of body cues and language we don't see.
"When they get older and meet other dogs that might run up to their faces for example, the dog will read those signals and back off.
"It's about learning to meet other dogs nicely and playing appropriately."
The rise in pet adoptions through the pandemic had an unexpected side effect; of a rise in pet anxiety.
"We do always recommend when you take a puppy or dog home to be home to settle in.
"The pandemic was a good opportunity to do that but you need to teach puppy to be alone too."
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