ANIMAL rescue workers were called to nearly 20 reports of abandoned pets in Herefordshire last winter.

The RSPCA saw more than 50 animals a day reported abandoned last Christmas, totalling more than 4,600 during the period, and is braced for more this winter after pet ownership surged this year.

In Herefordshire, the charity was called to 19 reports of abandoned animals.

Already this November, there have been 985 reports of dumped and unwanted animals to the RSPCA’s cruelty line, including three in Herefordshire.

The charity says reports of increased pet ownership during lockdown, coupled with a deepening recession could see more pets left out in the cold this year.

Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams, said: “During the lockdown there have been reports of a rise in people buying or adopting new pets, often for the very first time. While it’s great that so many people have become pet owners and have found their pet to be a real source of comfort during these challenging times, we are concerned that some people may have bought a pet on impulse without considering how their lifestyle might change once the pandemic ends. On top of that, we are facing real economic uncertainties, and, as in previous recessions, people may simply find themselves unable to afford their pet.

“The last thing we want to see is animals dumped and left out in the cold so we’d urge anyone who is struggling to care for their pets to please reach out to friends, family and charities for support instead.”

A poll by the RSPCA, conducted by YouGov revealed that just over one in ten pet owners had taken on a pet during lockdown and, of those, nearly one in ten said that their pet had been more expensive than they had expected. Just over one in 20 were worried about being able to afford them in the future.

The most common concern reported to the RSPCA’s cruelty line last winter was neglect, with more than 76 reports a day relating to pain and disease and 57 reports a day of unsuitable environments.

Between March 23 and November 29, the RSPCA’s cruelty line received 11,052 reports about abandoned animals.