Published: 12:00, 10 January 2022
| Updated: 15:41, 10 January 2022
A colony of rabbits have been found crammed in cardboard boxes and two pet carriers and dumped by the side of the road.
The 10 bunnies were shut inside the small spaces without any food or water in Sandringham Drive, Dartford.
The RSPCA have since launched an investigation into the incident which they believe happened at "some point overnight on New Year’s Eve or on New Year’s Day".
Inspector Kirsten Ormerod said: "Some of the bunnies are very young so we suspect this may be a case of an unneutered pair or group of rabbits having unplanned babies which the owners simply could not cope with.
"With pet ownership soaring during lockdown and the impact of the pandemic starting to hit families financially, we are concerned that more pets - like these sweet bunnies - could end up being abandoned by owners who are struggling to cope."
During the pandemic, pet ownership surged with estimates of more than 3.2 million people taking on new pets.
Now with the return to work, the end of furlough and the worrying rise in prices and energy bills, especially over the cold winter months, the RSPCA fears the increased stress and pressures will see a rise in abandonment of animals.
Animal abandonment levels have risen to almost pre-pandemic levels according to the charity and it worries this year could be even busier.
With 3,004 dumping incidents in England and Wales last winter, it is feared that rising abandonment rates will see more animals facing a bleak winter.
During recent months, abandonments have risen by around 20% compared to 2020 figures, and the animal welfare charity are concerned that soaring pet ownership during the pandemic could mean a surge of abandoned pets.
Thankfully, the rabbits dumped in Dartford are all okay and have now been taken into RSPCA care.
Officers are making enquiries in the area but are also appealing for information from anyone who may be able to assist with the investigation.
Kirsten added: "If anyone knows where these rabbits came from or saw anything suspicious in the Sandringham Drive area on December 31 or January 1 then we would urge them to contact our appeal line on 030 123 8018."