Pet owners are increasingly unable to afford their animals as the cost of living crisis worsens, according to the charity.
The Dogs Trust received 15,000 calls this year from owners asking about the process of giving up their dogs for resettlement.
That number is 54% more than this year, the highest since the charity’s call center opened in 2014.
In the first five months of 2022, the RSPCA received 49% more rabbits, 14% more cats and 3% more dogs than in the same period in 2021. Its research indicates that cat owners are the most affected and concerned about cost-of-living stresses.
Owen Sharp, CEO of Dogs Trust, said they are talking to families “who have been forced to make impossible choices because of their finances”.
He said they received a phone call from a woman who was “dazed because she felt she had no choice but to give up the family dog; she was facing a decision between feeding him or feeding her children.”
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A veterinary charity estimates the cost of keeping a dog is between £50 to £80 a month. But this adds up to £25-30,000 over the dog’s life, including upfront costs such as a bed and lead, extra items including toys and stool bags, plus pet insurance.
The Royal Pet Protection Society has warned that the country is on the verge of an “animal welfare crisis” due to increased pet ownership during the pandemic and the ensuing cost-of-living crisis, especially for low-income families.
“We are beginning to see the spillover effects of this as we and other charities have predicted,” Emma Slawinski, director of advocacy and policy at the RSPCA, said in a statement earlier this summer.
“Tragically, we are beginning to see an increase in pet abandonment and increasing numbers of cats and rabbits being rescued and brought into our care,” she added.
A YouGov survey of 4,000 people, commissioned by the RSPCA, suggested that 78% of pet owners believe the cost of living will affect their animals, nearly seven in 10 (68%) were concerned about the rising cost of care, and a fifth (19)% ) are concerned about being able to afford to feed their pets.
The Dogs Trust urged pet owners to call before the crisis point is reached. The charity, which shelters the dogs until they find new homes, said various forms of help from donors, volunteers, caregivers and adoptions are available.