LICKY ARMFUL: SPCA Kawerau volunteer Joy McEwen cuddles an armful of snuggly puppies. These three, and other puppies on this page are part of a litter of eight six-week-old Staffordshire bull terrier crosses living at the SPCA until they can be found homes. Photos Troy Baker D8804-072

PLUMMETING winter temperatures see not only humans seek out extra warmth and comfort, but those of the animal kingdom, too.

We visited the SPCA in Kawerau to find many of its occupants wearing an extra layer, and a very snuggly extra layer, at that.

Centre manager Julia Stevenson-Renwick says the Kawerau SPCA is lucky to have both Kawerau people and those from further afield who kindly provide the centre with jackets, which are heavily used throughout the winter months.

“They really are gorgeous,” says Julia of the jackets, either knitted or made of fabric. “And we really do appreciate it. We’re so grateful for every single thing anyone ever gives us.”

She says winter poses a few extra challenges for all SPCA centres.

“We get fewer volunteers during the cold months, for a start. And we need to take a lot of care to ensure the animals are kept warm enough. Our centre is heated but it still does get cold.”

And with litters of puppies, for instance, arriving at the centre, perhaps without the warmth of food of their mother, extra care is needed.

“It’s actually wonderful to see young animals that have arrived here thin and uncared for, leave later in great condition and going to good homes. There are some very challenging things about working for the SPCA but this is definitely one of the rewards.”

Julia says around 80 percent of animals from the Kawerau SPCA go to homes outside of the area. “People come from miles away,” she says. “We have a very good network.”

The puppy-sized knitted jackets in the photos were made and donated by Maungaturoto residents in Northland, Judith Morgan and Loris Bond.

They are being modelled by a litter of six-week-old staffy crosses who are awaiting adoption. “Mum was a stray who was picked up by a family in Kawerau, and soon after, the litter of eight was born.”

The lovely young mother is also in residence at the inn awaiting a forever home of her own.