As part of the charity’s Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, the RSPCA has revealed it received more than 100 reports of animals being abandoned every single day throughout 2021 and sadly these figures are on the rise this year.
A total of 38,087 abandonment reports were made to the charity’s cruelty line last year across England and Wales – an average of over 3,000 reports a month, 104 a day or four abandoned animals every hour.
In Wales there were 2,509 abandoned animals reported to the RSPCA in 2021. This included 279 alone in Rhondda Cynon Taff, 191 in Caerphilly and 190 in Swansea. [full table below]
This year these figures have risen by 23% in Wales with 1,554 abandoned animal reports made to the charity in the country from January – July 2022.
Heartbreakingly, the number of animals being dumped is also on the rise nationally with a 17% increase from 2020 to 2021 and a 24% increase in 2022.
The charity fears that a huge rise in pet ownership during the pandemic coupled with the cost of living crisis putting a strain on people’s finances means even more animals are being given up this year.
The animal welfare charity has released the stark figures as part of its Cancel Out Cruelty summer campaign which aims to raise funds to keep its rescue teams on the frontline saving animals in desperate need of help as well as raise awareness about how we can all work together to stop cruelty for good.
Dermot Murphy, Chief Inspectorate Officer at the RSPCA, said: “The idea of putting your cat in a cat carrier and taking them to a secluded spot in the woods before walking away, or chucking your dog out of the car and driving off leaving them desperately running behind the vehicle, is absolutely unthinkable and heartbreaking to most pet owners – but sadly we are seeing animals callously abandoned like this every single day.
“We understand that sometimes the unexpected can happen – the pandemic and cost of living crisis proved that – but there is never an excuse to abandon an animal. There are always other options for anyone who has fallen on hard times and can no longer afford to keep their pet.”
From January to July 2021 there were 18,375 abandonment reports compared to 22,908 in the first seven months of this year – a rise of 24%.
A recent report released by the RSPCA in partnership with the Scottish SPCA also showed that the cost of living crisis is the most urgent threat to pet welfare in the UK.
The Animal Kindness Index* showed that 78% of pet owners think the cost of living will impact their animals, almost seven out of 10 (68%) expressing concern that the cost of care was increasing, and a fifth (19%) worried about how they’ll afford to feed their pets. The study also showed cat owners seem to be most impacted and concerned about cost of living pressures.
This worrying survey comes at a time when the charity is at its busiest period. The RSPCA receives around 90,000 calls to its cruelty line every month but in the summer (July and August) calls rise to 134,000 a month and reports of cruelty soar to 7,600 each month – a devastating 245 every day.
Dogs were the most abandoned pet with 14,462 reports of dumped dogs made to the RSPCA last year. Cats were the second most abandoned pet with 10,051 reports of cats being callously dumped in 2021. There were also 3,363 abandoned exotic pets reported to the RSPCA including 1,455 fish and 685 snakes.
In January, the RSPCA appealed for information after a bearded dragon died when he was abandoned in a layby near Maesteg Golf Club.
The reptile was found by a member of the public just off the B4282, lethargic, dehydrated and in a very poor bodily condition.
The finder posted about the incident on a local social media group and an experienced reptile keeper got in touch with her to say he had an empty vivarium with the correct equipment.
He kindly collected the bearded dragon and placed him under a heat lamp, drip-feeding him hourly throughout the night with a syringe, but sadly the reptile was too weak to survive and died the following morning.
RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: “From the very poor condition he was found in, it’s clear that this reptile had not been receiving species-appropriate care for some time. He was very underweight with sections of skin hanging off and other parts missing, and he was extremely lethargic from being out in the cold.
“Very sadly, some people take on exotic pets without properly researching their needs or having a thorough understanding of how to care for them properly. These animals can then end up suffering, becoming injured, sick or even dead.”
Two pet gerbils were lucky to survive after being dumped in a rusty bucket in a car park in Tredegar.
The frightened duo were discovered by a member of the public near a rubbish bin in Queen Victoria Street last August. Luckily she was able to contain them before alerting the animal welfare charity.
Staff at Newport Animal Centre, where they were taken to be cared for, named them Ben and Jerry. The friendly gerbils were given a clean bill of health and were successfully rehomed.
RSPCA inspector Simon Evans, who attended the scene to collect them, said: “Ben and Jerry were not in a bad condition and had obviously been someone’s pets in the past, so it’s sad that they were then dumped like this and left to an uncertain fate. Their chances of survival, had they not been found, would have been extremely slim.
A couple from Flintshire saved the life of a severely injured dog who they saw stumbling towards them as they drove along a country lane near Llansannan.
Four-year-old terrier cross Fenton was badly injured, exhausted and struggling with bleeding wounds on the side of his face and neck.
After wrapping him in a towel belonging to their own dog they contacted the RSPCA, who asked the couple if they could take Fenton to the charity’s Bryn-y-Maen Animal Centre in Colwyn Bay, following the incident last August.
Deputy centre manager Rachel Gibbs said: “Fenton was in an incredibly bad way. He was just lying on his side, almost lifeless in the footwell of the car. He had a lot of infected wounds – several of these were long-standing and looked like bites – and he was covered in thick dirt and unable to lift his head.”
The skin on Fenton’s toes had also been ripped from the underlying tissue, which suggested he may also have been hit by a car.
After receiving life-saving treatment, Fenton needed more than three months of intensive treatment by staff at Bryn-y-Maen to ensure his wounds and skin were fully healed. The couple who had rescued him visited several times during his stay.
Fenton received the best Christmas present ever after he was rehomed to a couple in Cheshire at the end of November last year. An appeal to find his owner was shared over 2,000 times on Facebook, but no-one came forward to claim the little dog, who the RSPCA suspected had been abandoned.
The RSPCA received 1,081,018 calls to its Cruelty Line in 2021 and these included reports of;
1,094 killings or nearly three animals killed a day
632 mutilations or 12 animals brutally mutilated every week
7,857 beatings which equates to nearly one animal beaten every hour.
The RSPCA’s rescue teams need support to stay out on the frontline as the only charity rescuing animals and investigating cruelty:
£2 could help to provide a meal for a dog in our care
£6 could help pay to feed a dog for a day in our care
£10 could help pay towards bandages for a dog
£15 could help pay for a cat or dog’s clinical exam
£500 could kit out a 4×4 inspector van
Our frontline teams are working hard to rescue animals in need this summer but we can’t do it alone – we need your help to Cancel Out Cruelty. To help support the RSPCA, visit: www.rspca.org.uk/stopcruelty.
If you cannot donate, there are other ways you can help Cancel Out Cruelty, from volunteering with the RSPCA, holding a bake sale or fundraiser, or taking part in the #50MilesForAnimals challenge.