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Lockdown pets fuel RSPCA's animal neglect fears

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The RSPCA is predicting a bleak winter for unwanted animals in Hertfordshire.

Pets bought on impulse during the Covid-19 pandemic are a particular concern for the animal welfare charity.

In Hertfordshire in winter 2020-21, there were 176 reports of animals being neglected, including 48 in December. Across England and Wales, there were 12,344 reports throughout the winter, including 3,916 in December.

The RSPCA has found 2020 a particularly tough year (54042943)
The RSPCA has found 2020 a particularly tough year (54042943)

In December 2020, the RSPCA received one call every minute, one report of an abandoned animal every hour and it took 70 rescue animals into care every day.

There were 51,815 calls in the month, including 770 on Christmas Day, 1,091 on Boxing Day and 1,691 on New Year's Eve.

In the run-up to Christmas 2021, inspectors and animal rescue officers were surveyed about their biggest fears. The results revealed:

● 87% of front-line officers were worried there would be more neglect this winter as people have bought pets on impulse and do not know how to care for them properly or cannot afford them.

● 84% were worried that more people took on pets without understanding how to care for them.

● Almost half (45%) feared there would be more abandonments this winter as more people return to work.

● 69% agreed it was common for abandoned animals also to have suffered neglect, such as being underfed or having an untreated disease or injury.

● 60% were seeing more cases of puppies and dogs being kept in crates for too long because owners misunderstood crate training.

Dermot Murphy, chief inspectorate officer, said: "The RSPCA rescue teams are out 365 days a year in all weathers saving neglected and abandoned animals. This year we're concerned that the rise in pet ownership could mean some have taken on pets on impulse that may lead to more people abandoning or neglecting their animals."

In Herts, two dogs rescued at Christmas 2019 who spent more than 18 months in RSPCA care have finally found a forever home.

Eve and Dasher. RSPCA picture (53986469)
Eve and Dasher. RSPCA picture (53986469)

Salukis Eve, who is deaf, and Dasher were living in a shed and being used for hunting. They were taken to RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre in Potters Bar, and in June they went to their new home with Kelly Coupland and Scott Marshall – and their ex-racing greyhound, Biscuit – in Staffordshire. The couple decided to look for another pooch after losing their 16-year-old Saluki-cross, Fawn.

Eve and Dasher take a nap. RSPCA picture (53986465)
Eve and Dasher take a nap. RSPCA picture (53986465)
Eve and Dasher with Biscuit. RSPCA picture (53986467)
Eve and Dasher with Biscuit. RSPCA picture (53986467)

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