Animal charities could see record number of pets being abandoned due to lockdown

There's a warning tonight that the South could see a large number of animals left abandoned.

Charities like the RSPCA and The Dogs Trust fear the pandemic will mean owners give up their pets.

As financial pressures increase, charities are now asking for help.

  • Report by ITV News Meridian's Ravneet Nandra:

Meet Bob.

He's a 13 year old Border Terrier with loads of love to give, but he was abandoned at the gates of an RSPCA centre in Hampshire just a few weeks ago.

Bob is a 13 year old Border Terrier who was abandoned during lockdown Credit: ITV Meridian

The staff here at Ashley Heath in Ringwood don't know where he's from, and he's not the only animal left on the doorsteps of hundreds of animal centres across the region.

The RSPCA is bracing itself for a surge in abandoned animals and fears the fallout from the covid-19 restrictions could see more owners struggling to keep their pets.

From dogs, cats, horses, exotic animals and small furries like rabbits. 

  • Suzanna Norbury, RSPCA

In the first three months of lockdown, the RSPCA received almost 3,500 calls of reports of abandoned animals. That's about 40 calls per day.

In the summer months of 2019, the charity received almost 16,000 calls, and that's 1,600 calls in the Meridian region alone.

The RSPCA received about 40 calls per day regarding abandoned animals in the first three months of lockdown Credit: ITV Meridian


Calls in first three months of lockdown


Calls per day


Calls during June-August 2019


Calls in Meridian region

The demand for animals during lockdown has also soared.

Google searches for 'buy a puppy' have increased by an extraordinary 166 per cent since March, which is a real concern for the Dogs Trust.

Like the centre in Newbury, they're also caring for dogs whose owners have sadly passed away from coronavirus or contracted the virus, and are no longer able to care for their four-legged friend.

The Dogs Trust estimates it could see up to 40,000 more stray or abandoned dogs in need of help this year Credit: ITV Meridian

With added financial pressures, it estimates it could see up to 40,000 more stray or abandoned dogs in need of help, mirroring the 2008 financial crisis.

We understand that if you're around a lot more, it can be a great time to bring a puppy into your life. However, people may not have been prepared for the longer-term transition of getting a dog and as we start to move out of lockdown might have a puppy who's only used to having you around 24 hours a day. Suddenly they're not used to being on their own so they may suffer separation anxiety.

Owen Sharp, CEP Dogs Trust

There is a fear that if enough safe rescue shelter space cannot be found for dogs taken in by local authorities, euthanasia rates could also increase, which could see nearly 2,000 dogs put to sleep unnecessarily. 

Euthanasia rates could also increase if not enough safe rescue space can be found by local authorities Credit: ITV Meridian
Animal charities are urging pet owners to seek advice Credit: ITV Meridian

Animal charities are urging pet owners to seek advice and help before making any rash decisions, and ask owners who can't look after their pets to seek rehoming shelters first.

So dogs like Bob can find a safe home soon.