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A nation of animal lovers leaving behind family pets
Buy this photo » Oxford Animal Sanctuary worker Aaron Denton, left, with two-year-old Rosie and sanctuary manager Ron Heath with eight-year-old Wiley. Picture OX61289 Ed Nix
THE welfare reforms have had a huge impact on hundreds of families across Oxfordshire with households struggling to make ends meet.
And during hard times when people are finding it difficult to afford the basics, for some paying for pets is the thing that has to go first.
Both Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary and Blue Cross say that as people are having to “downsize” into smaller properties or go back to renting they are having to give up their beloved animals.
Stuart Insley, manager at the Blue Cross rehoming centre in Burford, said: “We are seeing a lot of people who must give up their pets because they are having to move home.
“And in the majority of cases it is because they are moving into flats or other types of rented accommodation where landlords do not allow tenants to keep pets.
“It can be a real upset for people to have to go through, especially if they are already going through a lot at having to move into what could be a lot smaller home and then having to give up something that means so much to you.”
Ron Heath, manager of the Oxfordshire Ani-mal Sanctuary, agreed.
He said: “It is one of the main reasons for people bringing pets in now, because they have had to downgrade to a flat and they can’t keep the pet with them anymore. It is a very hard decision for people to make.”
This summer, the RSPCA said it was facing a three-year high of abandoned animals.
A spokesman said: “We are finding increasing problems with abandoned animals and our centres are full to the brim with dumped cats, dogs and horses.
“It is certainly the case that people’s lifestyles have changed and people do have less money these days, and unfortunately that impacts on pets. They just get dumped.”
In 2012 there were 346 cases of abandoned animals reported across Oxfordshire, in 2011 there were 318, and in 2010 there were 320. There are no figures available yet for 2013.
Both the Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary and the Blue Cross rely on financial donations from members of the public to keep up their great work.
And right now both centres are facing the “kitten season” as well as a surge in their regular work.
Mr Heath said: “We are getting a lot more kittens at the moment and we are putting it down to people who have got a cat and then finding out it is pregnant and not wanting the responsibility of having to look after the kittens or not being able to afford them.
“A lot of people are dumping them and we are having to deal with them. Some come in when they know they are pregnant and don’t tell us so we aren’t aware until later on.”
Mr Insley said the rise in kittens could also be put down to people not being able to afford to get their pets spayed.
He said: “It can cost about £100 to get a cat neutered and some people are foregoing this so they don’t have to pay high vet costs.
“But then, unfortunately, the cat is getting pregnant and the owners are simply abandoning them or bringing them here.”
Blue Cross in Burford is also one of just two Blue Cross centres which looks after horses. Mr Insley said they have steadily been seeing an increase in welfare cases coming to them via the RSPCA. He said: “But it’s not just the big animals like the horses that have been our main increase. People are getting smaller animals as they think this will be a cheaper option to, say, a cat or dog but not realising the long term costs.”
Horse care groom Clare Davey said: “We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of horses needing to be rehomed as we’re admitting a higher number of welfare referrals where the horses have to be rescued and are then brought into one of our two horse units. Without our help and intervention, many of these abandoned horses would die.”
- For more information about Oxfordshire Animal Sanctuary, visit oxfordshireanimalsanctuary.org.uk or call 01235 815238.
- For more information about Blue Cross, visit bluecross.org.uk/burford or call 0300 7771570.
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