CLOSE to 20 animals have been impounded at the Port Macquarie Animal Shelter in the last seven days since lockdown was lifted.
This has prompted staff to encourage residents to ensure their pets can't escape while they're at work.
"We haven't had many surrendered animals over the last week, but we have had a high number of animals found roaming around that have been brought to the shelter," Port Macquarie Animal Shelter team leader Emmalee Andrew said.
In the week since lockdown was lifted for the Mid North Coast on Saturday, September 11, 17 cats and dogs have been impounded at the shelter.
"Over a period of four weeks prior to lockdown we had 20 animals, so this is quite a big jump in numbers," Ms Andrew said.
"We are now averaging at about five animals each day."
The team at the Port Macquarie Animal Shelter believe this is due to pets being left at home alone when owners return to work.
"Everyone was at home during lockdown and pets would have become used to that. Being left alone again can cause distress and some animals will look for any chance to get out of their yard," Ms Andrew said.
When a pet is found and is microchipped and registered, the ranger, in some cases, will be able to take the animal directly to their home to their owner.
"The fees for impounding animals can be quite expensive if they aren't microchipped or registered. It can be up to $300 in some cases and unfortunately these fees are set by the NSW Government and we have to follow them."
Ms Andrew said there are a few things pet owners can do to ensure their pet is happy at home while they're at work.
"Taking your dog for a walk in the morning, hiding some treats, rotating their toys, ducking home at lunchtime if you can and spending time with them after work can help them adjust," she said.
With a higher number of animals moving through the shelter over the past week, Ms Andrew said there have been some incidents where staff have been abused by frustrated pet owners reclaiming their animal.
"There has been at least one instance each day where an owner has been disgruntled with staff when picking up their animal," she said.
"This is usually due to the fees, but if a pet is microchipped and registered this lowers the cost of impounding if they do end up in the shelter."
The staff at Port Macquarie Animal Shelter ensure each animal is well looked after during the time they are impounded.
"We do treat them as if they're our own pets. We're all animal lovers and we always look after them at the shelter," Ms Andrew said.
When an animal is put up for adoption, the shelter can also receive a high number of applications to adopt.
"When there is an animal up for adoption, we can get around 20 inquiries. Which means when we do choose a home, we have to make a number of calls telling people they weren't successful.
"We have had instances where people have become annoyed because we didn't pick them. We're trying to do the best for the animal and we can only pick one home for each animal and one that will suit them the best to ensure they don't end up back at the shelter."
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