Unwanted animals face a ‘bleak winter’ says the RSPCA, with the number of abandoned pets now said to be ‘spiraling’ as a result of the cost of living crisis.
The charity says it is bracing itself for an ‘eye-watering’ 32.9% rise in abandonment calls.
Already this year, up until the end of October, staff have received 17,838 reports of unwanted animals in England and Wales. The figure is expected to pass 21,000 if the rate of reports continues at the same pace.
This would be more than the 16, 118 calls received in 2020, the 17,179 calls taken in 2021 and 19,645 reports processed last year.
Dermot Murphy, who heads the RSPCA frontline rescue teams, said the combined effects of the pandemic and ongoing cost of living struggles had created a ‘perfect storm’ that meant the charity is prepared for more animals than ever to need its help this year.
He explained: "Abandonment calls to our emergency line are now at a three-year high, as we respond to an increasing number of animals being given up and dumped.
“Behind these shocking statistics are thousands of vulnerable animals. Each one is a valuable life in urgent need of our help.”
Mr Murphy said he expects RSPCA rescue teams to be ‘busier than ever’ with shelters and centres becoming increasingly full as problems have escalated.
In Kent, the charity is on course to receive 616 reports of animal abandonment this year - marking a 36.6% rise.
Among the cases is that of two dogs – a male toy poodle ‘William’ and female chocolate labrador ‘Poppy’ - who were rushed to vets by a member of the public after being found in Maidstone in July.
Both dogs, says the RSPCA, were emaciated and struggling with severe sarcoptic mange, as well as very poor dental health. The duo were handed over to the charity for intensive care - but three months later, Poppy and William are unrecognisable.
The pair, thought to both be around nine years old, have gone from strength to strength in foster care and will soon take the next step in finding a forever home with the help of the charity’s Thanet branch.
Amid a worsening situation, the RSPCA has launched its Christmas Rescue campaign, through which money will be donated to rescue teams on the ground.
Dermot added: “For nearly 200 years, the RSPCA has been working tirelessly to bring animals to safety and give them the expert treatment and compassion they deserve.
“The support of the public helps neglected and abandoned animals in so many ways - from buying soft, warm bedding and nourishing food for an animal who’s desperately cold and hungry, to funding vital vet care for an animal who’s suffering and in pain.”