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Alice Springs Animal Shelter pleads for help as pet surrenders spike

An outback animal shelter says it is being forced to euthanase dozens of dogs and cats as a record number of pets are surrendered.

The Alice Springs Animal Shelter is receiving an average of five dogs each day, with almost 60 animals handed over in the past week.

The shelter closed its doors last Thursday for a week as it buckled under demand.

Since reopening, one dog and 12 puppies have been surrendered, which the shelter said would also need to be euthanased.

Shelter manager Tammy Hargrave said she had never seen anything like it.

"And it's owner surrender," she said.

"It's not your strays, it's not your camps, it's not your communities.

"This is actually people coming in, giving their dogs up because they've got too big, or they don't have time or it's not what they expected, or it's naughty or whatever."

Tough on staff

Ms Hargrave said people rarely adopted pets in the lead-up to the Christmas holidays.

With the shelter already filled to capacity, staff have been forced to euthanase animals.

She said the vast majority of the animals were not returned shelter dogs.

"I don’t even know where they’re getting these dogs, but they just don’t want them," she said.

On Tuesday, the shelter put down 37 cats and 15 dogs.

Ms Hargrave said it never got easier for her staff, particularly as they faced backlash online with people claiming they were a "kill shelter".

"When people make comments like that, it's a bit of a personal attack," she said.

"They say, 'I can't work at a kill shelter' – well, I don't want to either."

Raising funds for shelter

Ms Hargrave said the shelter was struggling financially.

"This is the hardest we've ever gone through," she said.

But Alice Springs resident Ricky Spears answered the call, setting up an online fundraiser that reached more than $26,000 in two days.

"We just wanted to donate some money so we put $4,000 down," he said.

"And then we thought instead of donating that straight to the shelter, we'd start a GoFundMe page."

He is hoping to hit the $30,000 mark.

"It's just a sad situation," Mr Spears said.

"And it never gets easy for them, putting animals down because no-one wants them."

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