RSPCA Cymru is bracing itself for a surge in abandoned animals; fearing the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis could see more owners in Wales struggling to keep their pets.
The animal welfare charity typically sees abandonment levels peak in the summer months.
In 2019, between June and August, 1,133 animals in Wales were reported as abandoned to the RSPCA – with incidents most common in Rhondda Cynon Taf (101), Bridgend (85), Caerphilly (81) and Neath Port Talbot (81).
Across England and Wales, 16,519 animals were reported abandoned to the RSPCA during that time period – accounting for 30% of all animals reported abandoned last year. During the summer months the charity had nearly 180 calls a day about dumped animals – including more than 5,600 about cats and over 6,400 concerning dogs.
Officers are now braced for an even bigger impact on their work this summer – as the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic start to be realised, and lockdown restrictions are gradually eased.
During the three months since lockdown began – across England and Wales – the RSPCA has received reports regarding 3,492 abandoned animals* – approximately 40 calls a day – including 1,509 dogs, 1,165 cats, 299 small furry animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs and ferrets, and 275 exotic pets.
An emergency appeal has been launched to help the RSPCA continue its vital rescue work – reaching animals in urgent need, including abandoned animals in all parts of Wales.
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.
“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 officers have remained on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic, responding to animal welfare emergencies. During the pandemic, across England and Wales, the numbers of animals being cared for by the RSPCA – including at animal centres at Newport and Upper Colwyn Bay - has risen by more than 1,500 to 5,600**.
Less than two weeks before lockdown started, and with the coronavirus crisis beginning to heighten in the UK, three helpless rabbits came into the care of the RSPCA having been found dumped in a Morrisons supermarket in Barry.
The rabbits were found by a member of the public at the Waterfront Retail Park in the Vale of Glamorgan town. Two were found inside a supermarket trolley, with a third in a crisp box placed in the trolley. Fortunately, all three rabbits were later successfully rehomed by the Pets at Home adoption centre.
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 the charity’s website.