Animal rescues

Cost of living crisis: Animal rescues and charities across Yorkshire are pleading with pet owners not to abandon their dogs and cats when they reach capacity

The crisis has hit many people across the country, with homeowners struggling to pay bills, gas and general amenities due to soaring prices.

But many owners in the UK, especially in the north, have pets.

Lilly the dog and her puppies along with carers Heather and Nicky at RSPCA York. (Photo credit: RSPCA York)

With the added financial challenges of veterinary care, insurance, and general upkeep, pet owners must send their beloved dogs and cats to charities and animal rescue centers.

This has been a particular problem in Yorkshire, as many local charities and rescues struggle to keep track of the number of dogs, cats and other animals sent in by owners who are struggling to care for their pets.

These organizations told the Yorkshire Post that they are now reaching full capacity as their kennels and cabins are filled weekly.

Harrogate-based dog rescue charity Miss Mollies Rescue has even run out of kennel facilities.

A cat rescued by Yorkshire Cat Rescue. (Photo credit: Yorkshire Cat Rescue)

The charity says contributing factors include the cost of living crisis and an increase in people buying, adopting and breeding dogs during the 2020 Covid lockdowns.

Jeanne Thompson, owner of the Harrogate charity, said: ‘We no longer have a kennel and receive requests daily to take in dogs. Fortunately, we rely on foster homes for those we can help and find. new homes quickly.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for people to cope and many owners have ongoing medical issues due to Covid and concern over the cost of living.

“We help where and how we can to ensure that dogs in need receive food and veterinary care when needed.

“Fingers crossed, things will start to improve quickly.”

RSPCA York branch manager Peter Gorbert says it is a national problem and pet abandonment is a key factor.

He said: “We are currently operating at full capacity with all of our 30 kennels and 24 cat cabins filled with animals waiting to find their forever homes or being rehabilitated ready to move up for rehoming.

“It is also a national problem with waiting lists for RSPCA animal spaces reaching triple figures for dogs.

“Part of this is due to the worrying increase in the number of animals being offered up for adoption or given up, and we expect this to get worse as we move into winter and the increase in energy bills are really starting to affect people.

“It will also be a very difficult winter for animal centers like ours, as we are also seeing our operating costs increase.”

Mr Gorbert told the Yorkshire Post that their energy bills had doubled in the past year and they were worried about the future as prices continued to rise.

‘Independent charities like the RSPCA York are also very heavily dependent on donations from individuals and many of our supporters will also worry about how they will be able to pay their bills,’ he added.

“Unless something happens soon, many charities like us will be completely unable to continue.”

Not only are a wave of Yorkshire owners sending their pets to charities and rescue centers amid the cost of living crisis, but many of these charities find themselves rescuing large numbers of animals who were left in parks and on roadsides.

Danni Shirreffs, director of the Blue Cross center in Thirsk, said the reality of abandoned animals was unusual for them before the crisis, but now they see it happening every week.

She said: ‘We urge all pet owners who are struggling to cope to contact us or another charity and not abandon their pets.

“We understand, this is a very difficult time financially and people forced to give up their pets are not alone.

“We’re really here to help and not judge anyone, it’s best for us to know a pet’s background to find them the best new home and we can’t do that if an animal is abandoned. .

“Pets may also have to spend more time in kennels while we assess them, which most pets don’t appreciate.

“At Blue Cross here in Thirsk, we find ways to help pet owners in any way we can. We don’t have a pet food bank here at the center, but we donate food for pets to local human food banks.

Manager of the Blue Cross center in Sheffield, John Cahill, revealed the center team had taken in abandoned baby guinea pigs, which had been left in a playpen last month, and a cat, which had been abandoned outside of center with a broken hip.

He said: “We recognized there was a growing need to help low income pet owners in 2020 which is why we created our pet food bank.

“Sadly we admitted a pair of abandoned baby guinea pigs found in a park last month and just a fortnight later a young cat was abandoned outside our center with a broken hip.

“Luckily he is recovering now, but he must have been in a lot of pain and stress from being left alone. We are seeing more and more animals admitted with injuries and health issues. This can be extremely dangerous and leave the animals in discomfort or even agony.

“Please contact your veterinarian as soon as you suspect your pet is ill or injured, as the sooner they can receive treatment, the more effective it will be.

“Anyone who cannot afford the treatment can contact us to help find a new home for their animal if that is the best outcome for the owner and the animal.”

Sara Atkinson, CEO and Founder of Keighley-based Yorkshire Cat Rescue, said: ‘Owners who have to part with their pets can’t afford it, it’s horrendous. The flip side is that fewer people are coming forward to adopt, especially the older and more fussy cats and we are still seeing a reduction in the number of people wanting to adopt our cats which means those cats at our center are there Longer.

“For some people [the problem is] being unable to afford to feed them, for others it’s the vet bills and what’s happened during the pandemic when many people haven’t had their cats spayed, perhaps because they don’t couldn’t or maybe because they couldn’t afford it.

“Last year we held an event where we raised over £20,000. It was fantastic. However, this year we held the same event and we are struggling. [with donations]. And people who give regularly have to stop or reduce their giving because they have bigger bills.

“If we get a bill from the vets and they say this cat needs his teeth, it’s going to cost you £800, we have to find him. We have to deal with it and then we have to pay our electricity bills and our electricity has increased for the November period [2021], we got our quote last week, from around £3,500 last year to around £14,500. We are not a massive charity, so we have to find the bills we have to pay.

Good Life Dog Rescue, a charity based in West Yorkshire, is also struggling to keep track of the number of stray dogs they have had to care for and relocate.

The main problem here is that stray dogs often have behavioral issues that require rehabilitation. This requires dwindling resources due to the number of dogs being sent to them compared to the rapidly decreasing number of people wanting to adopt.

Victoria Bastow of Good Life Dog Rescue said: ‘What happens is when a dog is rehomed, another dog takes that place. But I mainly take local stray kennels in Yorkshire which covers Wakefield, Leeds, I help a lot of dogs in the Nottinghamshire area, strays.

“I think right now people seem to feel like people just want to get rid of pets, but a lot of the dogs are already abandoned and a lot of them were very young dogs.

“Some of them were aimed more at breeders in confinement where, I’m sure some people had the best intentions, they didn’t do any training or offer advice to these dogs. So what we have now , these are adolescent dogs with behavioral issues that they want to rehome. I think people are so desperate to find these dogs and that’s where the strays come from. It’s a very difficult situation.

According to Ms Bastow, there are many factors contributing to the current crisis facing her charity.

“Contributing factors are: the cost of living crisis, however, what I will say is that it doesn’t cost that much to feed a dog, the costs come from vet bills,” she said .

“A lot of dogs that are already abandoned in local council kennels have medical issues that require surgery. Then I guess you have the situation where people have died who have dogs and family members don’t unable to help them, they also still need help.

“The sheer volume of strays and the sheer volume of people wanting to give up dogs has caused the kennels to become so full that they can’t accept any more dogs.

“I think another huge contributing factor is during the lockdown since people had nothing to do a lot of people went out and bought dogs. The demand was strong. He is now at a crisis point.