Concerns after thousands of animals are abandoned

The RSPCA received more than 4,600 reports of abandoned animals across England and Wales last winter, including 187 in South Yorkshire, and is worried a surge in pet ownership could result in more unwanted animals this year.

Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 10:42 am

Already this year, there have been 985 reports of dumped and unwanted animals to the RSPCA’s cruelty line including 42 in South Yorkshire. The charity says reports of increased pet ownership, coupled with a deepening recession could see more pets left out in the cold this year.

Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams, said: “During the lockdown there have been reports of a rise in people buying or adopting new pets, often for the very first time.

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The RSPCA is asking people to think carefully before buying a pet

"Whilst it’s great that so many people have become pet owners and have found their pet to be a real source of comfort during these challenging times, we are concerned that some people may have bought a pet on impulse without considering how their lifestyle might change once the pandemic ends. On top of that, we are facing real economic uncertainties, and, as in previous recessions, people may simply find themselves unable to afford their pet.

“The last thing we want to see is animals dumped and left out in the cold so we’d urge anyone who is struggling to care for their pets to please reach out to friends, family and charities for support instead.”

A poll , conducted by YouGov, revealed that just over one in ten pet owners had taken on a pet during lockdown and, of those, nearly one in ten said that their pet had been more expensive than they had expected. Just over one in 20 were worried about being able to afford them in the future.

Dermot added: “We would always urge anyone considering getting a pet to thoroughly do their research to make sure they can give them the time, money and care they need for the rest of their lives. As the impact of the pandemic puts a strain on people’s finances and as many people start to return to work or some kind of normality, the fear is that we will see a surge in abandoned and neglected animals coming into our care.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.