Welsh animal shelter seeing more abandoned animals as cost of living crisis hits pet owners
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
An animal shelter near Caernarfon is seeing more abandoned animals as the cost of living crisis hits pet owners.
The Freshfields Animal Rescue centre at Nebo, near Caernarfon has seen a “huge rise” – particularly in the number cats and kittens.
The centre currently has more kittens than usual and is appealing for help to re-home them.
The rise is thought to be a consequence of the pandemic when neutering services were harder to access.
The Nebo centre says it has also seen a “huge increase” in enquiries from financially stretched pet owners asking for animal food bank and veterinary cost help.
Freshfield’s experience is echoed by recent RSPCA figures. The charity reported receiving 3,644 calls last year (2021) categorised as ‘help with vet bills’ – a growth of 12% year-on-year.
It saw a year-on-year rise in some pets coming into its care – in the first five months of 2022, the charity took in 49% more rabbits, 14% more cats and 3% more dogs than the same period in 2021.
The RSPCA’s Animal Kindness Index also found the cost of living crisis was one of the biggest threats to animal welfare in the UK.
Some 68% of pet owners were concerned that the cost of pet care was increasing and 19% worried about affording to feed their pets, it revealed.
‘Lots of kittens’
The Nebo shelter – itself a charity – has also felt the pinch of rising prices on its own reserves.
It has seen fewer pet food donations at its Caernarfon and Bangor Tesco collection points.
Jacqueline Leggatt the centre manager said: “Donations of pet food at supermarkets kept use going in difficult times but they are slowing down as people have less available cash to donate to us.
“But more worryingly, we are definitely seeing a rise in more people giving up their pets. People are increasingly finding it harder to afford to feed their animals or pay for veterinary bills.
“We currently have lots of kittens seeking homes, more than usual. We are also finding that pairs of cats are proving much harder to re-home as people are less inclined to take on the double cost.”
The shelter frequently has waiting lists and at times struggle to take on any more animals.
“We are never empty, sometimes we have to explain on the phone that we can’t take any more in. But we have had people so desperate, they come anyway and leave animals on our doorstep.
“We’ve even had people threaten to kill their pets. We don’t want people to feel that desperate. We are finding more and more people are contacting us for advice asking where they can get help with pet food and vet bills.
“We can point them to help, and we do what we can to keep pets and their owners together.”
The centre currently has 50 horses on loan.
Jacqueline said: “We are worried we may see some of those horses coming back to us as animal feed and straw costs are going through the roof.”
“A lot of people are embarrassed to seek help but we don’t judge anyone.
“We’d rather people ask for our help and point them in the right direction before they do something desperate like abandoning their pets.”
To donate pet food to Freshfields, or to adopt an animal, see www.freshfields.co.uk or its facebook page.
The charity is happy to offer advice, and is also keen to hear from anyone who can help donate pet food or adopt an animal.
Contact Freshfields on 01286 880808.
RSPCA branches across Wales recently joined together to form a national food bank The Wales Pet Food Bank secures dog and cat food donations from suppliers and delivers it to RSPCA hubs.
The scheme has seen donations being made to organisations in north Wales including the Bangor Food Bank and Conwy Food Bank.
See the RSPCA website for more information.
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