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Animal Welfare

HEARTBREAKING: RSPCA Receives 40 Reports A DAY of Pet Abandonment During Lockdown

The RSPCA has received more than 1,600 reports of abandoned animals across England & Wales since lockdown began – that’s 40 a day. 

The charity has released the figures as part of its emergency appeal, launched to keep its rescue teams out on the road during the Coronavirus crisis and continuing to rescue animals most in need.

Animal rescuers at the charity have been designated key workers by the Government but vital funding is needed to help the RSPCA’s frontline staff continue this crucial work across England and Wales.

Since the country went into lockdown on 23 March, the RSPCA has had 1,663* incidents of abandonments reported to its cruelty hotline – an average of 40 incidents a day. 

An RSPCA spokesperson said: “Although much of the country is on lockdown, sadly there are still thousands of animals who need our help, including abandoned pets.

“Many people are finding their pets are a real source of comfort in these anxious times and thankfully cases of abandonment are slightly lower than usual but it’s heartbreaking that some beautiful pets like Red are being dumped during this crisis.

“In most cases we don’t know why pets are abandoned but it’s really important to remind people that there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 can be passed from pets to people.

“There is lots of help and support out there for anyone else struggling to get animal food, with health or behavioural issues, exercising their pets or managing to keep children safe around pets. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Since the Government introduced the lockdown measures, the RSPCA has responded to more than 27,000 incidents, with 1,600 incidents of abandoned animals reported. The number of animals being cared for by the RSPCA at centres, hospitals and vet surgeries has also grown by hundreds.

Some of the abandonments the charity has dealt with include:

  • Two-year-old toy poodle Red (pictured above) was found in a garden in Ilford, East London, on 5 April after being thrown over a 7ft fence. She was underweight, her coat was matted, her eye was infected and she was covered in sores. The RSPCA took her in and has now placed her with a fosterer while they investigate. 
  • A giant rabbit was found collapsed unable to use his back legs after being dumped in a cardboard box in Liverpool on 24 April. He had overgrown nails and was suffering from flystrike. Sadly, vets felt the only option was to put him to sleep.
  • Lurcher Harvey was abandoned when his owners were evicted from their home in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. He was left in a messy, concrete garden and, when the property’s landlord had to self-isolate, had no one to feed him. The RSPCA was called into to help the terrified dog who officers suspect had been living alone for months. He’s now being cared for by one of the local branches. 
  • Three rabbits were abandoned in a cardboard box in Bardney, Lincolnshire, on 13 April. The two females and male bunnies are now being taken care of by RSPCA staff who are investigating. 
  • Two female cats were found abandoned in a cat carrier next to a canal in Rochdale, Greater Manchester on 3 April. A member of the public found them while out on their daily exercise. They’re both very nervous but are now being taken care of by staff at RSPCA Rochdale. 
  • Two eight-week-old kittens were found dumped in a box in Birmingham on 15 April and were collected by RSPCA animal collection officer Cara Gibbon and taken into care (VIDEO).
  • Thirteen rats were found abandoned in a broken box in a field in Walton on Thames, Surrey, on 30 April. One had a nasty tumour and sadly had to be put to sleep but the rest are now being cared for by staff at RSPCA Millbrook. 

Since lockdown began:

  • RSPCA rescuers have dealt with 27,507 incidents of animal cruelty, neglect and suffering animals which need help;
  • The charity has received more than 92,800 calls from members of the public;
  • There are more than 4,300 animals in RSPCA care**.

The RSPCA is also urging pet-owners to make an emergency pet-care plan should they be admitted to hospital with Coronavirus, including placing a poster in the window informing people that there are pets inside.

Many owners are concerned about caring for their pets amid the Coronavirus – or Covid-19 – outbreak. There’s lots of advice and help on our website.

To help the RSPCA keep rescuing animals like these and keep our animal hospitals and centres running for emergency treatment and round the clock care through these unprecedented times, please donate whatever you can spare at www.rspca.org.uk/covid.

*Incidents reported to RSPCA emergency hotline from 23 March – 3 May 2020.

**The RSPCA had 4,368 animals in our care as of 3 May 2020. There are thousands more at RSPCA branches which are charities in their own right.