PET rescue stalwart Liz Stewart of Wincanton says 2012 was the worst in 30 years for unwanted and suffering animals.
The founder of Somerset and Dorset Animal Rescue is warning that 2013 will be even worse.
Now she is calling on people to help before rescue centres collapse under the strain.
Mrs Stewart was speaking as pet rehoming charities in the area reach crisis point over numbers.
She said: "It's been a horrendous year for all of us.
"Rescue centres are in despair - it's depressing. I don't know how we can cope physically and financially with any more pressure.
"I've been doing this for more than 30 years and I've never known it as bad as this.
"2013 will be even worse at this rate.
"With the economy like this people can't afford to look after their animals and some just dump them.
"But you can't blame it all on the economy. The biggest problem is puppy farms - people just breed more and more puppies to make money out of them but they can't find proper homes for all of them.
"And people don't get their cats neutered and there are so many unwanted kittens now. It's terrible.
"I feel disgusted by us as a nation - we're not animal lovers."
Mrs Stewart said other rescue organisations she has spoken are reporting the same problems and desperation.
She said she was especially upset by the euthanasia of thousands of dogs every week that end up in pounds.
Mrs Stewart, who has won awards for her work, has 180 cats and kittens needing homes, nine ponies, up to 20 dogs plus other animals.
Cats Protection branches in the area are also stretched more than ever.
Sandy Hugglestone of the Mere and Gillingham branch said: "It's been an absolutely awful year.
"I've been doing this for 12 years and it's the worst I've ever known.
"It's a real struggle. People just dump cats and kittens and leave them to die.
"We've reached the point where I have to try to get cats adopted on a home to home arrangement because of lack of space in our pens or with foster carers.
Kate Bevan of the charity's Blandford branch said they had taken on 220 cats and kittens in the last year but a further 50 had been moved on to the Southampton branch because they could not manage any more animals.
She said: "We haven't needed to do that very much in previous years."
Both Cats Protection branches and the Somerset and Dorset Rescue Centre are appealing for help to continue their work.
People willing to offer homes to animals are urged to get in touch. They also need more money and welcome fundraising events and donations as well as donations of blankets and other items.
Contact Liz Stewart on 01963 32279, call Sandy Hugglestone on 01747 840621 and Kate Bevan on 01258 858644.