The RSPCA is bracing itself for a surge in abandoned animals and fears the fallout from the Covid crisis could see more owners struggling to keep their pets.
Typically, the charity sees abandonment peak in the summer months. Between June and August 2019, 16,519 animals were reported abandoned to the RSPCA which accounts for 30% of all animals reported abandoned that year.
During the summer months the charity received 282 reports about dumped animals in Devon.
This included a poorly rabbit who was abandoned on a roadside in Brixham last summer. Found in July (2019) the male rabbit (pictured) was missing all his fur on the underside of his body and legs, with sores and wounds.
RSPCA inspector Claire Ryder remembers: “This poor rabbit was in a very sorry state, it was unthinkable that someone chose to abandon him when he so clearly needed treatment.
“It was clear he had been allowed to suffer for some time, by the state he was in. All the fur on the underside of his body was missing because of the awful conditions he’d lived in.”
The RSPCA is braced for an even bigger impact this summer following the easing of lockdown and the financial impact on the coronavirus pandemic, and has launched an emergency appeal to continue its vital rescue work.
During the three months since lockdown began*, the RSPCA has received reports about 3,492 abandoned animals* – about 40 calls a day – including 1,509 dogs, 1,165 cats, 299 small furries such as hamsters, guinea pigs and ferrets and 275 exotic pets.
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.
Dermot 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.”
RSPCA rescue teams have been working throughout lockdown after being classified as essential key workers. The numbers of animals being cared for by the RSPCA has risen by more than 1,500 to 5,600** during the pandemic
Dermot 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.”
What people can do if they’re struggling to care for their pets:
Ask friends and family for help
Contact your vet about payment plans, discounts or vouchers for neutering or any other treatment needed
Get in touch with local rehoming charities for advice
Visit the RSPCA website for welfare advice
To help the RSPCA continue to rescue animals that have been abandoned this summer, please visit www.rspca.org.uk/abandonments