IT'S hard to imagine abandoning a pet to a life of no love, no home and poverty.
But this happens, and especially over Christmas.
Typically, 4000 extra dogs and cats come into the RSPCA's care between November and January and many other animal shelters and pounds expect high numbers of animals to need refuge during this time.
"At Christmas a lot of people go on holidays and boarding pets can be quite expensive," said the president of the Animal Welfare League's West Sydney branch, Helen Powderly. "Some people abandon their animals or drop them off at pounds because they can't take them away with them.
"Puppies and kittens are given out as Christmas presents to people and they can't look after them.
"You get a lot of old dogs that people possibly don't want because they can't afford to pay the bill."
Also, the warmer weather has resulted in a surge of mating cats, placing extra strain on animal shelters and pounds. Others run away during New Year's Eve and Australia Day fireworks.
To help animal shelters in summer Holroyd Council is calling for donations of pet dry food and tins for its annual Pet Food Drive.
The food will be distributed to local animal shelters.
"We need any quality dry food and wet food," she said.
"And treats are always good — there's always some pet in need of a toy."