RSPCA: 2011 was another awful year for animal abandonments

The RSPCA is urging people to think before they act after the number of calls to the charity about abandoned animals rose for the fifth year running.

Last year, the charity took 28,162 abandonment calls, compared to 27,755 in 2010. In 2007, the total was just 21,481 – giving a 31 per cent rise over five years.

There was some good news – the December total for 2011 was 1,997, the lowest it has been since 2008, when the charity received 1,878 calls during the same month.

The RSPCA also received fewer calls (313) about abandonments during the first five days of January 2012, compared to 390 in the same period in 2011.

Inspector Tony Woodley said: “Usually we see many more abandonments in the summer rather than around Christmas, and the fact that the number of abandonments last December had decreased is slightly encouraging.

“Although it is tempting to blame the economic situation, we have no real idea of why the number of abandonments is increasing overall, but it is so frustrating to think that the messages about caring for animals just aren’t getting through to some people.”

Those animals abandoned included:

· A small dog which died after being left tied up outside a vet surgery in Keighley during the night of 16/17 October. The dog had managed to escape his tether and crawled into the practice garden, but was in such a pitiful condition that he died before horrified staff found him the next day.

· Seven shivering Jack Russell puppies found in a box in Woking on 5 December (pictured). All had had their tails docked, possibly illegally.

· Two giant lop-eared rabbits found abandoned in Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan on 14 December

· Three lurcher dogs dumped outside the RSPCA’s Putney Animal Hospital in London on 16 December. They had been left outside on a cold wet night, with a note saying their owners had been made homeless and could no longer care for them.

· A whimpering English bull terrier found huddled next to a wall on a common near Merthyr Tydfil on 18 December. The female dog had red and raw skin all over her body, missing fur and she was lame on her right hind leg.

· Two terrapins found dumped in a soggy cardboard box in a field in Headington, Oxfordshire on 29 December.

· A cat left in a box in public toilets in Nuneaton on 30 December. A note had been left with the white cat saying: “please find me a good home.”

Inspector Woodley continued: “People might think they are doing the right thing, leaving their pets where they think they will be found, or they may feel they have no other option. 

“Whatever the reason, owners have a legal responsibility to seek help for their animal and if this means making a bit of effort to find a good new home, or just waiting a few days until someone can take the animal in, this is what they must do.”

The RSPCA needs the help of the public now more than ever. If every pet owner just made the following few simple New Year resolutions, there would be far fewer abandoned animals. 

We are asking people to:

— only take on an animal where you are confident you can provide for it

— neuter your pets to reduce the chances of unwanted litters (discounted services are often available to those on low incomes)

— microchip your pet so if it does go missing it can easily be traced back to you

— make sure you can afford veterinary treatment before taking on an animal

Whilst we don’t yet have final figures for donations and legacy income for 2011, the RSPCA, like other charities, is certainly feeling the pinch of a harsh economic climate.

With the increase in abandonments, as well as the impact of rises in fuel, energy and veterinary costs, the RSPCA’s operational costs are increasing faster than new income is being generated from traditional sources such as legacies.

All the work we do to help animals in need is reliant on public donations, and we remain extremely grateful for every penny given at what is for many supporters a very difficult time.

Help us to continue our work and rescue animals like these by making a donation. Ring: 0300 123 8000 (24 hours) Website:


To find out how to support the work of the RSPCA, for information on microchipping or neutering or to find out how to rehome an animal please visit or call the enquiries line on 0300 123 4555.


To report a sick, injured or cruelly-treated animal please call the RSPCA on 0300 123 4999.