The RSPCA has launched an appeal after a dog had to be put to sleep after being abandoned and left to freeze in Burnley.
The elderly Staffordshire cross was found collapsed in snowy conditions, outside the front of a house just days before Christmas.
The RSPCA was alerted after the female dog was discovered by a homeowner in Russell Court on December 17.
She was freezing cold and clearly unwell, according to the RSPCA.
The dog was taken to the charity’s Greater Manchester Animal Hospital where she was put on a drip.
Sadly, her condition worsened and she had to be put to sleep by vets to prevent further suffering.
Deputy chief inspector Amy McIntosh said the dog may have been abandoned because the owners could not afford to humanely put her to sleep.
She said: “We suspect that this poor elderly dog may have been abandoned because her owners couldn’t afford to take her to a vet to have her humanely put to sleep.
“She was freezing cold as the temperatures had plummeted and was clearly in a very bad way.
"It was a very distressing sight to see an old dog, who presumably had once been a much loved pet, suffering out in the cold like this.”
The charity is appealing to anyone who has information about the incident to come forward.
The RSPCA has seen an 73 per cent increase in puppies being abandoned in a year, with rescuers also battling to help a huge rise in unwanted pets around the festive season as the cost of living crisis deepens.
The animal welfare charity believes a decline in puppy sales, which spiked during lockdown, has caused unscrupulous breeders to dump dogs which no one wants to buy.
There were 711 puppies and breeding female dogs abandoned in 2022, up from 411 in 2021, an increase of more than 73 per cent.
This has risen further from 359 in 2020 and 275 in 2019.
In recent weeks, the animal welfare charity has been helping a rising number of unwanted pets, with 3,260 animals abandoned since November 1, a staggering 14 per cent increase on the same time the year before.
It is believed the cost of living crisis coupled with the expected financial pressures on pet owners during the festive season has led to this upsurge.
In the lead up to the festive period in 2021 there were 2,864 abandonments rising from 2,053 in 2020. So far since the New Year, there have also been 700 abandoned animals rescued by the charity.
Dermot Murphy, RSPCA inspectorate commissioner, said: “Our teams have seen families simply cannot afford to feed both themselves and the pets, while others have been helping families facing eviction who can’t find alternative accommodation that allows pets.
“Some of the very saddest examples are people who dearly love their pets and are trying their best in very difficult circumstances.
“We are doing what we can to help, especially trying to keep pets in loving homes, but as a charity we are struggling too.
“Our branches and centres are full to bursting and we have hundreds of pets waiting to come in so we can rehabilitate and rehome them.
“We really need animal lovers to help us get through this crisis time by donating to us so we can continue our work.
It’s a challenging time for animals and we’re asking people to help us help animals by joining the rescue and making sure we don’t let animals pay the price of the cost of living crisis this winter.”