Published: 15:51, 09 July 2020
| Updated: 15:54, 09 July 2020
The RSPCA is bracing itself for a surge in abandoned animals across Kent over fears owners will struggle to afford their pets post-pandemic.
The charity would typically see a hike in cases during the summer months, but the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis is anticipated to be an added factor.
Last year, between the months of June and August, the RSPCA received 16,519 reports of dumped animals, which accounts for 30% of all animals reported abandoned that year. Almost 450 of these were in Kent.
In anticipation of even higher figures this year, the charity is launching an emergency appeal.
Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams, said: “During lockdown we’ve seen pets become a source of comfort and support for people and it appears many people have taken on new animals.
"Fortunately during this time we’ve dealt with fewer abandoned pets.
"However we are worried that as lockdown eases, people return to work, go on holidays or struggle financially we will be facing a massive surge of animal abandonments."
During the three months since lockdown began, the RSPCA has received an average of 40 calls a day, relating to a total of 3,492 abandoned animals.
This has included 1,509 dogs, 1,165 cats, 299 small furries such as hamsters, guinea pigs and ferrets and 275 exotic pets.
Mr Murphy added: “Sadly summer tends to bring with it a surge in abandoned animals.
"We don’t know why but it may be a combination of the warmer weather making people feel less guilty about dumping a pet to fend for themselves and people doing away on holiday abandoning pets instead of arranging care for them.”
The numbers of animals being cared for by the RSPCA has risen by more than 1,500 to 5,600 during the pandemic.
This includes two adult rabbits and four baby rabbits who were found dumped in a plastic cage next to a pile of fly-tipped rubbish along a country lane in Kent on May 15.
The rabbits were found by a member of the public along Merton Drive which runs between Newington and Hartlip.
Luckily, the person took the rabbits home and contacted the RSPCA.
All six rabbits were taken to the RSPCA Leybourne Animal Centre to be cared for by the dedicated staff.
Just a day later, two ferrets were left in a plastic box on the side of the road opposite Woodlands Lane, Gravesend on May 16.
It is not known how long the creatures had been left at the location before they were found by a passer-by.
The ferrets, a male and a female, were both in good health and friendly, and were collected by RSPCA Inspector Kirsten Ormerod and taken into the care of the RSPCA.
Mr Murphy continued: “This is the toughest year yet for the RSPCA despite the huge challenges, our amazing teams have been continuing to rescue animals throughout this crisis.
“I’d urge anyone struggling with their pet to ask for help. Animals have been there to help us through the crisis, please don’t abandon them now.”
Tips if you or somebody you know is struggling to care for their pets:
To find out how you can help the RSPCA visit www.rspca.org.uk/abandonments