As charities take in more abandoned animals, the number of people rehoming in Oxfordshire slows

More pets are being abandoned with fewer people rehoming Credit: RSPCA

The RSPCA has launched its annual Adoptober campaign encouraging prospective pet owners to consider giving a rescued animal a new home.

It comes as new figures raise concerns more animals are being relinquished to charities at a time when rehoming has slowed.

The animal welfare charity says it's dropped 10% while animal intake is up 8.4% year-on-year. 

It fears the cost of living crisis has led to more people giving up their pet.

The RSPCA has highlighted a potential animal rescue crisis as more animals come into care, stay in rescue centres for longer, with less people coming forward to adopt.

Fewer people are coming forward to give abandoned pets a home Credit: RSPCA

In 2021, the RSPCA's network of centres and branches rehomed 26,945 animals; an 8% drop compared to the previous year when 29,358 animals were taken in, despite the Covid pandemic affecting the way in which charities across the nation could operate.

The number of dogs rehomed by the charity also fell 6% from 4,877 in 2020 to 4,567 in 2021; while cats dropped 12% from 17,868 in 2020 to 15,579 in 2021.

In Oxfordshire, the total number of animals rehomed slipped 23% from 131 in 2020 to 101 in 2021.

The number of dogs rehomed dropped 62% from 13 in 2020 to five in 2021; while cats fell 7% from 84 to 78; and rabbits dropped 47% from 34 to 18.

Kent, however, is bucking the trend. The total number of animals rehomed in the county increased 7% from 1,136 in 2020 to 1,212 in 2021.

The number of dogs rehomed increased by 18% from 93 to 110; with the number of cats going up 1.5% from 750 to 761; the number of rabbits rehomed rose 17% from 96 to 112; horses went up 13% from 30 to 34; and other pets - including small furries and farm animals - went up 17% from 167 to 195.

An increasing number of small animals are being abandoned Credit: RSPCA

Nationwide last year the charity's network of centres and branches rehomed 26,945 animals; an 8% drop compared to the previous year when 29,358 animals were rehomed.

Pet welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “It’s really concerning to see that animals are staying in our care for longer and that less are being rehomed year-on-year. Unfortunately, we believe we’re really starting to see the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

“Many of the animals - particularly dogs - who are coming into our care have behavioural challenges which could be linked to how they were bred as well as lockdown limiting the amount of training, socialising and outside world experience they had. 

“We’re also beginning to see more animals coming into our care because their owners simply couldn’t afford to care for them any more; or, in the most extreme cases, having been neglected or abandoned due to the rising cost of pet care.

“Sadly, this is coming at the same time that potential pet owners are deciding now is not the best time to take on an animal due to the soaring cost of living, and feeling they cannot financially commit to adding a pet to their family at such a worrying time.

“For those who are able to bring a pet into their home, we are urging them to really consider adopting rather than buying. Many of our animals will already be neutered, vaccinated and treated for fleas and worms - making it much more cost-effective - and we will work them to make sure they find their perfect match.”

The RSPCA highlights a potential animal rescue crisis Credit: RSPCA

Last year, the charity rescued:

  • 7,412 dogs - 11.9% more than the 6,624 in 2020;

  • 7.1% more rabbits (2,731 compared to 2,549);

  • 6% more other pets (5,900 compared to 5,566).

The RSPCA's Animal Kindness Index - released earlier this year - highlighted the impact the cost of living crisis is having on pet owners. The survey found 68% of pet owners were concerned about the increasing cost of pet care while 19% were worried about being able to afford to feed their pets.

Figures released by the charity in August revealed its cruelty line was receiving more than 100 reports a day of animals being abandoned throughout 2021; and the concern is the cost of living crisis could lead to this riding even higher.