Monika's doggie rescue on borrowwed time

Sydney's biggest private dog-rescue group, which saves more than a thousand animals from being destroyed each year, may be forced to close within weeks.

Monika's Doggie Rescue takes dogs on death row from council and RSPCA shelters and has a "no-kill" policy, looking after them for as long as it takes to find a permanent home.

But after operating for 17 years and saving nearly 8500 dogs, founder Monika Biernacki says the registered charity is at breaking point due to the global financial crisis.

"We have seen a huge drying-up of donations," she said. "We don't have any other source of income.

"We have done a lot of belt-tightening over recent months, but I am now at the point where I cannot see a way out and am left with no choice but to close our shelter."

And while donations have fallen, the number of dogs being abandoned has shot up, as people struggle to cope with veterinary bills or the cost of feeding their animals.

"We are getting this huge increase in demand for our services while at the same time the number of adoptions has reduced because people are more cautious about the cost," said Ms Biernacki.

She has launched a last-ditch appeal to supporters through her website -

Renbury Farm Animal Shelter, a large shelter at Austral that services four councils in the south and west of the city, says it is experiencing the same upsurge in demand for its services.

"People are having to watch every penny and say they are giving up their animals because they can't afford to look after them," said a spokeswoman, Lorraine Barnes.

"It's also the same for reclaiming them once they come into the pound. Because there are fees to get them out they are often left with us by owners who can't afford to get them out. Then they head off to Monika."

Ms Biernacki's shelter at Ingleside is home to more than 100 dogs. She specialises in rehoming smaller dogs - known colloquially as "small, white fluffies" - many of them the so-called designer breeds that have become popular in recent years.

All her dogs come from RSPCA and council pounds, but unlike them, Ms Biernacki never allows a dog to be put down.

If she is forced to close she is adamant all her current dogs will be given new homes - somehow.

But she says it will mean many more dogs being put down in future.

"The thought of closing breaks my heart," she wrote in a recent letter to supporters.

"There goes almost two decades of my life's work and I just can't bear to think what will happen to our little doggies and the fate of those in the pound just waiting to come here."