AN ANIMAL welfare charity is warning pet owners who might be struggling to look after their animals to reach out for help instead of abandoning them.
The RSPCA received more than 4,600 reports of abandoned animals across England and Wales last winter and is worried a surge in pet ownership could result in more unwanted animals this year.
The charity said that in November there were 42 reports of dumped and unwanted animals to its cruelty line, out of 985 reports nationally.
The organisation said reports of increased pet ownership, coupled with a deepening recession could see more pets left out in the cold this year.
Last winter the charity received 4,650 reports of abandoned animals including 187 in South Yorkshire.
Dermot Murphy, 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.”
A poll by the RSPCA, conducted by YouGov, revealed that just over one in ten (11 per cent) of pet owners had taken on a pet during lockdown and, of those, nearly one in ten (9 per cent) said that their pet had been more expensive than they had expected.
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.”
This winter, the RSPCA expects to rescue thousands of animals from neglect, cruelty and suffering. To help rescue teams reach the thousands of animals who desperately need help, visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas and Join the Christmas Rescue #JoinTheRescue