Animal welfare crisis: Rescue centre CEO fears cost-of-living will force owners to give up pets

Rescue centres in South Yorkshire fear that the rising cost of living will lead to an animal welfare crisis.

By Cameron Greenlees
Monday, 1st August 2022, 8:23 am

Rain Rescue, an animal welfare charity in Rotherham, is seeing an increase in pets coming into their care with many centres already full and others close to capacity, as rehoming slows down and more people are looking to give up their pets.

Read More

Read More
Yorkshire abandoned puppies: Sole surviving pup in abandoned litter of 11 flouri...

The charity fears this is the start of an animal welfare crisis caused by a rise in pet ownership during lockdown colliding with the current cost-of-living pressures.

Kittens Skip and Twiglet. Pet ownership rocketed during the pandemic, but now some people are giving their animals away to cut costs. Picture Scott Merrylees

Jacquie Neilson, CEO and founder of Rain Rescue said: “Sadly, charities like ours are struggling under the volume of unwanted pets, spiralling running costs and lack of new long-term homes.

“The majority of rehoming centres have very little capacity to help.”

Rescue centres are not funded by the government, and are not eligible for funding by the lottery as many charities are.

Ms Neilson added: “Resources are extremely limited.”

“Currently, if people feel they have to relinquish their pet, it's unlikely that immediate space to do so will be available.”

The country saw a large increase in pet ownership throughout the pandemic.

Ms Neilson said: “This was because when people were working from home, the government allowed people to exercise their dogs to get out of the house, and people leapt on this as an open door to pet ownership.”

She added loneliness was also a key factor.

“This was the perfect time to try out pet ownership and find their new friend.”

Halita Obineche, Executive Director of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH), said “we are now dealing with the fallout” of the “huge surge” in pet ownership.

“Inexperienced owners unable to manage pets; workers returning to the office; and now the rising cost of living, all combined to create a national animal welfare crisis.”

There was a large increase in behavioural issues in pets during lockdown which has added to the problem.

Ms Neilson said this was due to a “lack of socialisation and vaccination.”

She added: “People were taking on pets with no previous ownership or knowledge and hoping their dogs or cats would automatically know what to do.”

Rain Rescue and ADCH have both asked the public to help them deal with the issue.

They have asked people not to see rescue centres as their first solution for not wanting to keep their pets.

Ms Neilson said: “We always advise people to look at their lifestyle choices to potentially find solutions other than rehoming, for example - changing working hours, or dog sharing with a friend or family member.

“If the reason is truly critical or severely financial, rescue centres may have the capacity to help and support you through this but currently it is unlikely.

“Owning a pet is a lifetime commitment, so we believe that before people take on a pet they really take this into consideration.”

Both charities have asked the public to educate others about the issue and donate in order to raise funds.

Rain Rescue has helped over 5000 cats and dogs in the last 20 years.

Ms Neilson said: “If nothing changes, we predict we will be heading back to the days when dogs and cats were abandoned on the streets by owners that couldn’t keep them anymore.”