Figures released by the RSPCA shows the number of animals being rehomed has slowed in Hertfordshire.
The new data has been released after the charity launched its annual Adoptober campaign this week – encouraging prospective pet owners to consider giving a rescued animal a new home.
The cost of living crisis has led to more animals being cared for by the RSPCA at its shelters and branches around the country.
The statistics from the charity highlight concern for a potential animal welfare crisis – with many animals staying in rescue centres for longer, as less people come forward to adopt.
Across Hertfordshire the overall number of animals rehomed slipped by 39% from 511 in 2020 to 313 in 2021. The number of dogs rehomed fell to 52%, whilst cats decreased 23% from 217 to 167.
The biggest drop within the rehoming statistics was seen amongst rabbits falling from 40 to six (a decrease of 85%).
Other pets including farm animals and poultry dropped by 42%, while horses bucked the trend with eight going to new homes in 2021 compared to just two in 2020.
As part of this month's Adoptober campaign, the RSPCA is hoping to encourage more people to consider adoption or fostering, as well as highlighting the many animals who are waiting to find their perfect match.
Two-year-old Mufasa is being cared for at RSPCA Southridge Aminal Centre in Hertfordshire (Credit: RSPCA Southridge/Instagram)
Pet welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, said: “It’s really concerning to see that animals are staying in our care for longer and that less are being rehomed year-on-year.
“Unfortunately, we believe we’re really starting to see the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.
“Many of the animals – particularly dogs – who are coming into our care have behavioural challenges which could be linked to how they were bred as well as lockdown limiting the amount of training, socialising and outside world experience they had.
“We’re also beginning to see more animals coming into our care because their owners simply couldn’t afford to care for them any more; or, in the most extreme cases, having been neglected or abandoned due to the rising cost of pet care.
“Sadly, this is coming at the same time that potential pet owners are deciding now is not the best time to take on an animal due to the soaring cost of living, and feeling they cannot financially commit to adding a pet to their family at such a worrying time.
“For those who are able to bring a pet into their home, we are urging them to really consider adopting rather than buying.
“Many of our animals will already be neutered, vaccinated and treated for fleas and worms – making it much more cost-effective – and we will work with them to make sure they find their perfect match.”
A YouGov survey commissioned by the RSPCA and the Scottish SPCA earlier this summer showed the impact the cost of living crisis is currently having on pet owners.
The Animal Kindness Index found 68% of owners were concerned about the increasing cost of pet care, whilst 19% worried about how they would afford to to feed their animals.
Additional figures released by the RSPCA in August revealed how its cruelty line was receiving more than 100 reports a day of animals being abandoned throughout 2021.
The animal welfare charity is concerned the current cost of living crisis could lead to this rising further.
The RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre in Hertfordshire is looking to find homes for some of its longest-stay residents this Adoptober – including ten-year-old German Shepherd Jake, who has spent nearly two years waiting for his forever home.
German Shepard Jake (Credit: RSPCA Southridge/Instagram)
To see all of the animals currently in the care of the RSPCA visit Find A Pet here.