The RSPCA said it is bracing itself for a surge in abandoned animals and fear the fallout from the COVID-19 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 it, which accounts for 30% of all animals reported abandoned that year.
During the summer months in 2019, the RSPCA had nearly 180 calls a day about dumped animals – 5,600 about cats and 6,400 about dogs.
Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams, said the charity is braced for an even bigger impact this summer following the easing of lockdown and the financial impact on the coronavirus pandemic, and it has launched anemergency appeal to continue its vital rescue work.
“During the three months since lockdown began,” Mr Murphy said, “we’ve 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.”
He added: “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.
“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.”