People have been warned to think long and hard before giving a pet as a gift this Christmas in what has been one of the worst years for strays and unwanted litters in Orange.
Jasmine Smart is the president and founder of Central West Animal Rescue (CWAR). While she can't put her finger on the exact cause for the spike in homeless animals, she has a few ideas.
"We've got around 90 animals in care now," she said.
"Covid has been horrible for finances for everyone, so maybe that has played a part in it. But we would rather they come to us than leave a pet uncared for."
She said the worst of it started in October and hasn't let up since. Now in the run-up to the festive season, she is hoping to make people aware of the consequences of gifting an animal.
"A pet is a family member, so you've really got to consider someone's financial capacity to care and keep for it," she said.
"Giving a pet as a present when the person doesn't know, really isn't a good scenario.
"How do you really know if that person has the financial capacity to take care of an animal. Not just for food either, as it can be a couple thousand dollars for a vet if one is needed."
Something the CWAR does to help fit the right owner with their pet is a trial run.
"A lot of other rescues around the area don't offer trials," she said.
"It can take anywhere from three days to three months for an animal to come out of their shell, so having no trial is not responsible."
But if you are looking for a bit of company this Christmas period, there is another way to dip your toe into pet ownership.
"Our foster carers have families too, so if you find yourself not doing anything over the holidays and you want someone to spend Christmas with, we have the need for Christmas foster careers," Ms Smart added.
"It can be around two or three weeks for anyone looking for some puppy and kitten cuddles."
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