RSPCA warns rescue centres could become overwhelemed as 'dog welfare crisis' looms

The RSPCA fears next year could be worse as incidents rise. Credit: PA

The RSPCA has warned rescue centres could become overwhelmed in the next few months as people struggle to look after puppies during the pandemic.

The charity is warning of an "impending dog welfare crisis" as people return to work and may no longer be able to care for dogs.

It's also concerned the "end of furlough and the deepening recession will hit families hard" - meaning some might not be able to afford to look after their pets.

It comes as the the RSPCA revealed it has received more than 600 calls in Hertfordshire this year about dogs who've been neglected or abandoned. 

In Suffolk, officers dealt with 504 incidents and in Bedfordshire it was 386.

The RSPCA fears that the coming recession and the impact of ‘lockdown puppies’ will hit already-struggling rescue centres hard Credit: PA

The charity said online searches for puppies increased sixfold during lockdown and is urging families to do their research before bringing one home.

“We have seen a rise in people searching for dogs to adopt during lockdown, which is fantastic, but at the same time, there appears to be a rise in people looking to buy puppies", RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said.

“We know that there are not enough puppies bred in the UK to meet the demands of those who want to buy them and, worryingly, there appears to be a surge in puppies coming in from outside the UK.

"The problem with this is that, although breeders from countries like Romania are licensed, we have no way of checking the conditions those animals are being kept in.

“We are urging people to thoroughly do their research before committing to getting any dog and to make sure they don’t get caught out by people acting illegally or irresponsibly. We have lots of dogs waiting for their forever homes so please do consider getting a rescue dog. Although it is really tempting to buy a puppy, those from abroad may have been bred in poor conditions, leaving them with potentially serious medical and behavioural problems whereas adopting from somewhere like the RSPCA where staff have really got to know the dog, means you get the advice and support you need."