A growing number of Britons are parting ways with their pets – from cats and dogs to snakes and lizards – as cost-of-living pressures continue to bite.
Some owners are dumping them on the streets, with 206 dogs and 164 cats currently being cared for at rehoming centers run by Battersea animal charity.
It is a similar story at other centers across the country – with some seeing record requests for the return of dogs and cats – as the tightest squeeze on living standards since at least the 1960s forces scores of owners to face the extra cost of food plus hundreds of pounds. in veterinary bills is no longer manageable.
Steve Craddock, head of the Battersea center in south London, warned: “We are concerned that it is going to be an increasing reason for people to bring their dogs to Battersea.”
Exotic pets such as snakes and lizards also prove too expensive due to their need for special heating and lighting.
Three snakes, including an 8ft (2.4m) boa constrictor were recently dumped in pillowcases outside a reptile shop, the RSPCA said.
The trend, which follows a surge in demand for pets during the Covid pandemic lockdowns, comes as households prepare for their energy bills to more than triple in January.
The Dogs Trust, which currently has 692 dogs in need of homes in 21 centers across the country, said the last time it had seen anything like this was in the wake of the 2008 financial crash.
The trust’s director of operations Adam Clowes said: “This cost of living crisis has snuck up on us much faster than people ever expected.”
Such is the pressure that charities are considering whether to extend an emergency support fund – normally reserved for people on welfare who need short-term financial support to keep their pets – to more middle-income earners.
Animal charities say they are also concerned that pressures on living standards will have an impact on donations, although they don’t see this yet.
Previous reports on the trend have said owners are coming to rehab centers in tears over having to surrender animals to pay bills.
That is unlikely to be the case for most animals to be rehomed, and another charity, Woodgreen, says applications to adopt animals have plunged into the 100s a month – from around 10,000 during lockdowns.
Pilar Gómez-Igbo, an assistant editor, could have been a potential owner, but after doing some research, she is now worried about the extra costs.
She said: “As the change in cost of living became more apparent, yes definitely, it joined the list of things to seriously consider. I make myself wait a bit.’
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