Pets under threat as rising costs make it harder for owners to care for animals

Pets are being left by the cost of living crisis, ITV News' Rhys Williams reports

The biggest threat to animals in the UK is the cost of living crisis, according to a new Animal Kindness Index compiled by the RSPCA.

The report, based on a YouGov survey of more than 4,000 UK adults, found that even though more than two-thirds of the public describe themselves as animal-lovers, 70% of pet owners say they are worried that it's getting more expensive to look after their animals.

The price of pet food has increased by more than 6% due to inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the charity. Additionally, one in five owners are concerned about finding the money to feed their pets as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

Wales's Pet Food Service Bank delivers pet food in Cardiff and Newport.

At the Llys Nini Rescue Centre in Swansea, manager Gary Weeks told me they’re not only seeing more people handing in their pets due to rising costs, but also a significant fall in demand for their rescued animals.

The RSPCA found homes for an average of 753 animals per week in 2019, 565 in 2020 and 518 in 2021 meaning that spaces aren’t being freed up as quickly and animals are staying in care for longer. On top of this, RSCPA inspector Keith Hogben told me there was evidence fewer pet owners were going to the vets, with the charity receiving 3,644 calls last year needing help with vet bills - up 12% from 2020.

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According to Debi Emmett, who runs the Pet Food Service Bank in Ely, Cardiff, demand has gone “through the roof”. “Each foodbank is giving us feedback that they need more food each month. We just can’t keep up with it at the moment.” Every dog owner we spoke with in Cardiff today told us the rise in costs was worrying, but insisted their pets were part of the family and would never be allowed to suffer.

Popeye is one of the dogs left behind in a rescue centre.

Despite this, the RSPCA is seeing a year-on-year rise in pets coming into its care - with 49% more rabbits, 14% more cats and 3% more dogs being entered into its care in the first five months of this year compared to 2021. If you’re struggling, the message from the RSPCA is clear: don’t bury your head in the sand and suffer in silence, help is available.

RSPCA can be contacted using their online enquiry form.