Charities in warning over looming pet care cost crisis
The number of owners who have spoken the Dogs Trust about giving up their animals has “risen to the highest levels” since 2014, the charity has reported.
The news comes with pet-owners increasingly unable to afford their animals as the cost of living crisis bites.
Dogs Trust received 15,000 calls this year from owners asking about the process of giving up their dogs for rehoming. That’s up 54% on last year, and the highest ever since the charity’s contact centre opened in 2014.
In the first five months of 2022, the RSPCA took in 49% more rabbits, 14% more cats and 3% more dogs than the same period in 2021 and its research suggests cat-owners are the most impacted and concerned about cost of living pressures.
Dogs Trust CEO Owen Sharp said families were being “forced to make impossible choices because of their financial situations” with callers saying it was a choice between feeding their children or their pets .
Veterinary charity The PDSA estimates the cost of keeping a dog at between £50 – £80 a month – adding up to £25-30,000 over the course of the dog’s lifetime.
Costs of things like pet food have also shot up following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which fuelled inflation in the UK that could rise to 13%.
The RSPCA warned the country is on the “brink of an animal welfare crisis” due to the rise in pet ownership during the pandemic and the subsequent cost of living crisis, especially for low-income households.
The charity’s director of advocacy and policy Emma Slawinski, said: We’re starting to see the knock-on effects of this as we, and other charities, predicted.
“Tragically, we’re starting to see an increase in the abandonment of pets and growing numbers of cats and rabbits being rescued and coming into our care.”
The news comes as a YouGov survey of 4,000 people, commissioned by the RSPCA, suggested 78% of pet owners think the cost of living will impact their animals, almost seven out of 10 (68%) were concerned about rising cost of care, and a fifth (19%) worried whether they could afford to feed their pets.
The Dogs Trust urged pet owners to get in touch before reaching crisis point. Various forms of help from donors, volunteers, foster carers and adopters is available, said the charity, which houses dogs until it can find them new homes.