RSPCA begs people not to dump their pets this winter as neglect cases rise with cost of living

The RSPCA has urged any pet owners struggling this Christmas to approach the charity for help, as Rhys Williams reports

The RSPCA has urged anyone struggling to look after their pets to contact the charity for help rather than abandoning them, as the cost of living continues to soar.

The animal welfare charity said it has seen a 25% rise in the number of abandonment incidents being dealt with by its rescue teams this year, as well as a 13% rise in neglect incidents.

Dermot Murphy, who heads the RSPCA frontline rescue teams, said: “We’re extremely sympathetic to anyone struggling with rising costs at this difficult time but we’re begging people not to dump their pets.

“It is never the answer. Please, please ask for help."

Pet food banks run by the RSPCA are helping struggling owners in a scheme that has seen branches partnering with local food banks.

Tens of thousands of meals have already been donated, transported and given out and the charity is urging pet owners who are struggling to come forward for help.

Five six-week-old kittens at the RSPCA Animal Rehoming centre in Uxbridge, London. Credit: RSPCA

This comes as the RSPCA said in recent weeks alone, its teams have rescued three eight-week-old puppies, including one who died, dumped in a food waste bin in Kent, four puppies dumped in a garden in Warrington, and a puppy in a carrier bag in West Yorkshire.

It has also rescued five puppies with their umbilical cords still attached abandoned in a box in London, two cats who had been abandoned after giving birth to kittens in the West Midlands, and nine rabbits dumped in a wheelie bin in Nottinghamshire.

The RSPCA’s most recent figures show that to October 2022, RSPCA rescuers dealt with 13,159 incidents of abandonment – up from 10,519 for the same time period the previous year.

The incidents of neglect being dealt with by teams has also risen, with 30,500 by the end of October 2022, compared to 27,521 over the same period in 2021.

The charity says it is facing additional challenges this year because of rising prices.

Jackie the ferret awaits a new home at the RSPCA Animal Rehoming centre in Uxbridge, London. Credit: RSPCA

Mr Murphy said: "My fear is that we’ll see increasing cases of animals neglected and abandoned this Christmas as families struggle with soaring bills.

“We are doing what we can to help, especially trying to keep pets in loving homes, but we are struggling too.

“Our branches and centres are full to bursting and we have hundreds of pets waiting to get in. We really need animal lovers to help us get through this crisis time.”

The RSPCA is appealing to people who are in a position to donate to join the Christmas Rescue at a time when the charity says “any contribution could make the difference between life and death for animals this winter”.

There is also dedicated cost of living support being offered by the RSPCA with a recently opened telephone helpline to support callers who are worried about the cost of living crisis and a dedicated cost of living hub with practical help and advice on the website.

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