According to survey results released by the RSPCA, 87 per cent of their frontline rescuers fear neglect of pets this time of year following a rise in pet ownership during the pandemic and pets bought on impulse.
They said this will lead to more animals being neglected this year, with 84 per cent of respondents worrying that individuals are adopting pets without knowing how to care for them.
Being able to provide appropriate care for pets topped the reasons the officers worry animals will be abandoned or neglected this Christmas - with 95 per cent listing the cost of care, including vet and grooming costs as their number one reason for neglect.
Heartbreakingly, the survey also revealed that the RSPCA rescuers believed loss of interest in a pet is a contributing factor to abandonments and neglect at this time of year, with 82 per cent saying they feel it is the main reason for abandonments, and 74 per cent believing it is a major cause of neglect.
One report of an abandoned animal every hour
The charity received one call every minute in December last year, and one report of an abandoned animal every hour, and it took 70 rescue animals into RSPCA care every day.
In South Yorkshire, there were 362 reports of animals being neglected last winter - including 113 reports in December.
Dermot Murphy, the RSPCA’s chief inspectorate officer, said: “The RSPCA rescue teams are out 365 days a year in all weathers saving neglected and abandoned animals.
"This year, we are concerned that the rise in pet ownership could mean some have taken on pets on impulse which may lead to more people abandoning or neglecting their animals.
"We will be out there every day this Christmas for the animals who need us most, bringing them to safety, but we can’t do it alone. We rely entirely on donations to keep our rescue teams on the road."
“With a cost of £245 a day to keep a frontline rescuer on the road this Christmas, We’re calling on animal lovers to Join the Christmas Rescue to help keep our teams out on the frontline, doing whatever it takes to rescue every animal we can.”
More abandonments as people return to work
The survey results also revealed almost half (45 per cent) fear there will be more abandonments this winter as more people return to work.
Meanwhile, 69 per cent agree it’s common for abandoned animals to also have suffered neglect such as underfed or untreated disease or injury.
Sixty percent are seeing more cases of puppies and dogs being kept in crates for too long due to a misunderstanding of crate training.
The charity said concerns about the cost of caring for animals also show the importance of pet insurance which gives peace of mind and means that owners don’t have to compromise on the vet treatment for their pet.