Last winter, the RSPCA received 4,650 reports of abandoned animals including 68 in Hertfordshire - and the charity is worried a surge in pet ownership could mean that figure will rise.
Already last month, there were 985 reports of dumped and unwanted animals to the RSPCA’s cruelty line, including 11 in Hertfordshire.
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.
"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 by the RSPCA, conducted by YouGov revealed that just over one in 10 pet owners had taken on a pet during lockdown and, of those, nearly one in 10 said 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: “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.”
Since the start of lockdown, from March 23 until November 29, the RSPCA’s cruelty line has received 11,052 reports about abandoned animals.
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