Newcastle Herald
02 Jun, 2012 04:00 AM

HUDDLED together without food or water, these abandoned pets had days to live when they were discovered at a vacant rental property last week.Not so lucky are several dead birds nearby that died of apparent starvation after their former owners left them behind.It is a sad circumstance that is becoming increasingly common across the Hunter.

Some are victims of their former owners’ financial difficulties.

Others get left behind because the tenants have moved into a property where they are not allowed to have pets, a common situation.

‘‘It just becomes easier to leave them to fend for themselves and it becomes someone else’s problem,’’ Hunter Animal Rescue president Jaimie Abbott said.

The Australian Terrier and the cat, which are estimated to have been left alone at the Newcastle property for six days, are now with foster carers who are looking for new homes.

But hundreds of other unwanted pets face an ugly fate.

Many are advertised online with little regard for their welfare.

‘‘I see about three or four advertisements a week where people are giving their animals away,’’ Ms Abbott said.

‘‘We suspect a lot of the dogs end up getting used in dog fighting rings.’’

Creer Property property officer Erin Hillier said it was virtually impossible to locate the former tenants.

‘‘Most of the time they skip town owing money or they have damaged the property,’’ she said.

The maximum penalty for abandoning an animal is $5500 and or six months jail.

The same penalties apply for failing to provide food or shelter for an animal.

‘‘If the animal has died as a consequence of their neglect that raises it to aggravated cruelty which has a maximum $22,000 fine and two years in jail,’’ RSPCA Chief Inspector David O’Shannessy said.

He said the RSPCA vigorously prosecuted animal neglect wherever possible.

‘‘Unfortunately we have always had some people who don’t give a damn and they just leave the animal behind, not necessarily as a consequence of not being able to take it but they just up and run,’’ Mr O’Shannessy said.

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