Five dogs abandoned in rural road highlights fears of winter welfare crisis

The RSPCA is investigating after five dogs were abandoned in a rural location in Leicestershire.

Members of the public contacted the RSPCA after coming across five dogs wandering in a rural road, Bradgate Road near Newtown Linford, at around 10pm on Monday 13 December.

It supports concerns that the charity’s fears about an animal welfare crisis this winter could be materialising, with a rise in abandonments as new pet owners struggle to care for pets they acquired during the pandemic. The RSPCA is urging the public to Join the Rescue and help them help animals in need this winter.

Inspector Helen Smith, who is now investigating, said: “Locals were concerned that the dogs were all wandering loose and described them as looking bewildered. They managed to catch four of the dogs and took them to a local vet.

“Unfortunately, a fifth dog – a small white terrier type – could not be captured. We’d urge local people to keep an eye out for the little dog and to contact the dog warden or the RSPCA if they find him.”

One of the dogs, a five-year-old female black and white border collie, was in a very poor body condition and had an injury to her neck.

Helen added: “The poor girl has a deep, sore wound around her neck which appears to have been caused by a tight collar or a rope which has become embedded in her neck. She’s now having the wound treated.”

The other dogs – a tan and white female beagle, a short-haired tan-coloured male terrier with a docked tail, and a black and white poodle cross type – were all also rescued and are now in RSPCA care.

The male dogs are all entire and, although the dogs are microchipped, they are not registered with databases. Helen said: “The microchips haven’t been traceable so they’re either out-of-date or are foreign chips that are registered overseas.”

The RSPCA has seen abandonment levels rising to almost pre-pandemic levels and fears this festive season will be even more devastating for animals as pet ownership has soared which could lead to even more now-unwanted pets being left out in the cold, left to fend for themselves while owners travel to visit family over the four day holiday, or neglected due to stretched family budgets.

With 3,004 abandonment incidents in England and Wales last winter,1,018 of those during the month of December alone, with neglect incidents totaling 12,344 during winter with 3,916 in December, the charity fears that rising abandonment rates will see more animals facing a bleak winter.

During recent months abandonments have risen by around 20% this year compared to 2020 figures and the charity is worried that soaring pet ownership during the pandemic could mean a surge of abandoned dogs and cats as people return to normal working life.

Helen added: “These four dogs were abandoned alone in the cold and dark, one with a serious injury that needed urgent veterinary treatment. I fear that this could be the beginning of the welfare crisis that we’ve been predicting after pet acquisition surged so dramatically during the pandemic. These four dogs will be warm, dry, well-fed and well cared for now; the collie is in RSPCA kennels and the others are with the dog warden.

“But providing care for dogs in need like this costs money. And with thousands of animals in our care, and many more needing us this winter, we’re urging the public to Join the Christmas Rescue and help us help them over the coming months.”

Anyone with information about where these dogs have come from or who is responsible for abandoning them should contact the RSPCA’s appeal line on 0300 123 8018.