It's raining cats and dogs: Hunter RSPCA animal shelter numbers swell with inconsistent summer weather

FESTIVE: Honey, an 11-month-old American Staffordshire Terrier, is one of the dogs currently available for adoption at the RSPCA Rutherford shelter.

FESTIVE: Honey, an 11-month-old American Staffordshire Terrier, is one of the dogs currently available for adoption at the RSPCA Rutherford shelter.

It might not actually be raining cats and dogs, but the inconsistent summer weather certainly contributes to an influx of animals at the Hunter RSPCA shelters and hospitals, Regional Manager for RSPCA Hunter Debbie Jagger said.

As well as the sweltering heat, and roaring storms, people travelling with pets for the holidays or animals being scared by festivities also contributes to a larger amount of stray animals around New Year each season.

“There’s always a spike in numbers at shelters, and RSPCA hospitals, around the Hunter in December and January,” Ms Jagger said. “Surprisingly, however, it’s not because of people returning ‘Christmas pets’ or changing their minds – we’ve had 0 returns this year.”

Instead, she revealed, it’s often animals that are scared by storms and weather changes that break away from their houses or owners while outside and become lost and confused.

“Summer brings with it animals out on walks, and then extremely hot days mixed with evening long thunder storms. It can be frightening for animals that are kept outside or are walking around, and can lead to them getting away,” she said.

“There are those particular factors, absolutely storms, and people don’t really think about wind but it really upsets animals. There’s also fireworks, storms and then just some many people being out and about.

“It’s also breeding season for cats, so there’s so many kittens and people are inundated with them – that means there can be a lot around.”

Ms Jagger stated that it’s crucial to make sure that your security for your animal, from marked collars to micro-chips and registration, is so important if you want to keep your pets safe.

“The shelters are normally full, and if you come looking for your pets it makes it quite difficult,” she said. “If you have a collar on your pets, or you have them chipped, then we can contact you and keep them aside and make sure you can get your friends back very quickly.

“If all their details are up to date it makes it so easy at the ‘front door’. If there’s no contact details to be able to get the animal back to their owners then it slows everything down and could see missed connections.”

The drive by the RSPCA around this time is making sure that information is up to date, that free microchipping by council and rangers is taken advantage of, and that energetic animals have all forms of identification ticked off.

“Register your animal so that we can pull up your information and find your phone number or email address,” Ms Jagger said. “Rangers can also check chips, and collars and tags can be used by anyone if they find a pet in the street.”

“As well as with rangers, local vet practices can scan microchips, so if you find an animal that doesn’t have a collar then go to either the RSPCA shelters, or a vet practice and make sure that the process gets started.”

If you are interested in adopting an animal, you can go to the Tighes Hill shelter at 75 Elizabeth Street, or the Rutherford shelter at 6-10 Burlington Place.

Those looking to adopt a new friend can also head online to where images and information about all animals in local shelters is hosted.