TO mark World Stray Animals Day last week, Riverina and District Animal Rescue (RADAR) sought to bring attention to the plight of abandoned cats in the dogs in the region.
World Stray Animals Day is seen as an opportunity to extend compassion and care towards neglected and homeless animals, while taking action to improve the conditions for dogs and cats living on the street.
Internationally, April 4 is celebrated as a day to highlight the often miserable lives the 600,000,000 stray animals across the world endure, and increase awareness about the number of animal's euthanised each year.
Wagga woman Tanya Lyons has been a volunteer foster carer for RADAR for close to 12 months and currently has three adult cats in her care.
While she finds fostering animals "extremely rewarding" when the animals are found new, loving homes, she finds it heart-breaking to see how many dogs and cats end up on the street.
RADAR operates across the Riverina and into Canberra, canvassing pounds and shelters across the region to rescue companion animals running out of time for adoption and facing a likely death sentence.
"We target at risk animals who have been in shelters for two or three weeks and no one has come to pick them up," she said. "These are animals who have run out of time." In her role as a foster carer, Tanya sees the best and worst of humanity.
"It is so good when you get to see an animal go home, but it can be hard to see some of the things that are happening to animals here every day," she said.
"There was a litter of tiny little pups who were still on their mother's milk that were left in Griffith.
"I don't know if the mother had died or if the person just didn't want the pups, but these pups were very vulnerable and could very easily have all died.
"The carers do their best in situations like this. Sometimes they hand raise little ones that should still be with their mother or try and find another mother to feed them."
Tanya said RADAR takes in, on average, between 15 and 20 dogs, puppies, cats and kittens each month.
"We find after occasions like Easter and Christmas there are a big inundation of animals that arrive in the shelters a couple of months later which puts a bit of strain on the rescue groups," she said.
"The rescue groups keep in close contact with the shelters and have a good relationship with them ... They let us know when they get new arrivals or when animals are at risk."
The beauty of RADAR is animals are kept as long as it takes to find them a new family.
Despite forming an attachment with the animals she fosters, Tanya she always happy to see them venturing off to a new family and a new life.
The cost of caring for the animals she fosters comes out of Tanya's pocket, and RADAR relies heavily on donations from the community to continue carrying-out their life-saving work. The group is desperately looking for new volunteer foster carers.
For more information on becoming a RADAR foster carer, phone Tanya on 02 6931 2545 or visit http://www.radarescue.org/.