Harriet stood on her hind legs to greet any prospective owner who might approach her glass-doored kennel. Harriet is a black English Cocker Spaniel who has been abandoned as an increasing cost of living pushes a growing number of Britons to part with their pets.
She was found walking along a busy road in London after witnesses saw her push out of a car. She is one of 206 dogs and 164 cats currently being cared for at Battersea Animal Charity rehoming centers.
It’s a similar story at other centers across the country – some are seeing record dog and cat returns – as the most severe pressure on living standards since at least the 1960s has forced many owners to decide on the extra cost of food plus hundreds of pounds. in vet bills are no longer manageable.
“We are concerned that this will be an increasing reason for people to bring their dogs to Battersea,” Steve Craddock, who manages the center in south-west London, told Reuters.
Exotic pets such as snakes and lizards also prove too expensive due to their need for specialized heating and lighting.
Three snakes, including a 2.4-meter-long boa constrictor, were recently dumped in pillowcases outside a reptile store, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) told Reuters.
The trend, which follows a surge in pet demand during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in a country known for its love of animals, comes as households brace for energy bills that more than tripled in January compared to last year, putting people’s incomes under pressure.
The Bank of England has warned that Britain is entering a long recession.
Another financial crash
Dogs Trust, which currently has 692 dogs in need of homes in 21 centers across the country, said the last time it had seen anything like it was in the wake of the 2008 financial crash.
“This cost of living crisis has come upon us much faster than people ever expected,” said Adam Clowes, the Trust’s chief operating officer.
Among other things, the charity is considering expanding an emergency fund, normally reserved for people on social assistance benefits who need short-term financial support to keep their pets, to more middle-income families.
Animal charities say they are also concerned that pressures on living standards will impact donations, though they don’t see this yet.
At Battersea some pets are rehomed. Magpie is a British short-haired cat who became pregnant after her two-year-old owner realized they couldn’t afford the kittens. All her four kittens have now found a new home.
But that’s probably not the case for most animals, with another charity, Woodgreen, saying the number of applications to adopt animals has fallen to 100 a month from around 10,000 during lockdowns.
Pilar Gomez-Igbo, an assistant editor, could have been a potential owner, but after doing some research, she’s now concerned about the extra cost.
“As the change in the cost of living became more apparent, yes it certainly did, it got on the list of things to seriously consider,” she said. “I’ll make myself wait a little.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)