RSPCA fears surge in pet ownership will mean more abandoned animals than ever across the West Country

The charity says reports of increased pet ownership, as well as a deepening recession could see more pets left out in the cold this year. Credit: RSPCA

Last winter saw nearly 200 animals neglected in the West Country.

The RSPCA is predicting there'll be more abandoned animals than ever due to a surge in first time pet owners during the pandemic.

More than 50 animals a day were left out in the cold last Christmas, and the charity says it's preparing for this year to be worse.

More than 170 animals were abandoned across the West Country last winter:

  • 37 in Cornwall

  • 68 in Devon

  • 71 in Somerset

  • 52 in Wiltshire

  • 28 in Bristol

  • 42 in Gloucestershire

Already this November, there have been 985 reports of dumped and unwanted animals to the RSPCA’s cruelty line:

  • 7 in Cornwall

  • 22 in Devon

  • 12 in Somerset

  • 5 in Wiltshire

  • 12 in Bristol

  • 9 in Gloucestershire

Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams, said: "Whilst it’s great that so many people have become pet owners and have found their pet to be a real source of comfort during these challenging times, we are concerned that some people may have bought a pet on impulse without considering how their lifestyle might change once the pandemic ends.

"On top of that, we are facing real economic uncertainties, and, as in previous recessions, people may simply find themselves unable to afford their pet."

Since the start of lockdown the RSPCA’s cruelty line received 11,052 reports about abandoned animals.

Mr Murphy said: “We would always urge anyone considering getting a pet to thoroughly do their research to make sure they can give them the time, money and care they need for the rest of their lives.

"As the impact of the pandemic puts a strain on people’s finances and as many people start to return to work or some kind of normality, the fear is that we will see a surge in abandoned and neglected animals coming into our care.”