The RSPCA received more than 4,600 reports of abandoned animals last winter and is worried a surge in pet ownership could lead to more this year.
Last winter, the charity received 4,650 reports of abandoned animals, including 128 horses, 193 rabbits and 1,401 cats. Dogs were the most abandoned pet with a whopping 2,425 abandonment reports during the winter months.
Already in November they received 985 reports of dumped and unwanted animals and with reports of increased pet ownership, coupled with a deepening recession, the RSPCA says could lead to more pets being left out in the cold this year.
Dermot Murphey, head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams, said: “During the lockdown there have been reports of a rise in people buying or adopting new pets, often for the very first time. Whilst it’s great that so many people have become pet owners and have found their pet to be a real source of comfort during these challenging times, we are concerned that some people may have bought a pet on impulse without considering how their lifestyle might change once the pandemic ends. On top of that, we are facing real economic uncertainties, and as in previous recessions, people may simply find themselves unable to afford their pet.
“The last thing we want to see is animals dumped and left out in the cold so we’d urge anyone who is struggling to care for their pets to please reach out to friends, family and charities for support instead.”
Animals just like Gabe (pictured) who was abandoned and left tied up near RSPCA Harmsworth Animal Hospital in London. The member of the public who spotted him said they had not seen anyone leave the dog, but they think he had been left there for at least half an hour before he was spotted last month.
Gabe was not microchipped and was wearing a red harness with a chain lead. He is a small spitz breed cross and had some matting of fur on his rear end and he also had sore skin. He is now being fostered by a RSPCA staff member and getting the care and attention he needs.
A poll by the RSPCA, conducted by YouGov revealed that 11% of pet owners had taken on a pet during lockdown and, of those, nearly 9% said that their pet had been more expensive than they had expected. Just over one in 20 were worried about being able to afford them in the future.
A third of GB adults who own a pet said they were worried that pets bought during lockdown will be abandoned if people returned to work and 31% said they were concerned that pets will be dumped this Christmas if people were struggling.
Dermot added: “We would always urge anyone considering getting a pet to thoroughly do their research to make sure they can give them the time, money and care they need for the rest of their lives. As the impact of the pandemic puts a strain on people’s finances and as many people start to return to work or some kind of normality, the fear is that we will see a surge in abandoned and neglected animals coming into our care.”
This winter, the RSPCA expects to rescue thousands of animals from neglect, cruelty and suffering. To help our rescue teams reach the thousands of animals who desperately need us, visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas and Join the Christmas Rescue #JoinTheRescue