Increase in pre-Christmas abandoned pets

A STARK increase in number of animals abandoned before Christmas has been reported by the RSPCA today.New figures released by the charity show that in December last year the charity received 28 calls in Suffolk and Norfolk about abandoned animals.

A STARK increase in number of animals abandoned before Christmas has been reported by the RSPCA today.

New figures released by the charity show that in December last year the charity received 28 calls in Suffolk and Norfolk about abandoned animals.

During the first three months of this year there were a further 67 cases.

In December last year the total calls in the eastern region about animals suspected to be abandoned was 222, compared to 155 calls in January 2005.

The statistics indicate many more animals became unwanted before Christmas than immediately afterwards.

RSPCA East Region Superintendent Tim Wass said: “Sadly many owners seem to be dumping their pets before the holiday period. If pets are viewed as commodities by irresponsible owners then caring for them might seem to interfere with festive plans. Likewise an older animal may be traded in for a younger cuter model. But pets should never be given as presents, nor be treated as lifestyle accessories.

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“These figures prove that too many animals are being given up throughout winter, leaving them homeless, alone and at risk.”

The vast number of unwanted pets places a huge burden on the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations, whose centres are often full during December.

Last year reasons given to the RSPCA for wanting to rehome a family pet included “my cat doesn't match my new carpet” and “I've got a new puppy that is too boisterous for our old dog - can you take the old dog away”.

One person even told officers “we don't want our three rabbits because they don't come out to greet us”.

The RSPCA urges owners who really feel they cannot look after their pet to contact an animal welfare organisation for help, rather than dumping them.

Superintendent Wass said: “Abandoning any animal in circumstances likely to cause it to suffer is an offence and carries a maximum prison sentence of six months and/or a £5,000 fine.”

To find out about re-homing an animal from your local RSPCA animal centre please visit www.rspca.org.uk and click on 'Local RSPCA'.

For details of your nearest RSPCA branch (which may be nearer than an animal centre) please see your local Yellow Pages.

N What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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