RSPCA South Yorkshire: Soaring living costs putting the lives of pets at risk

The RSPCA is noticing an increase in the number of abandoned and neglected pets, and believes the cost of living crisis is to blame (Photo: RSPCA)
The RSPCA is noticing an increase in the number of abandoned and neglected pets, and believes the cost of living crisis is to blame (Photo: RSPCA)

Soaring living costs are putting the lives of pets in peril in South Yorkshire, the RSPCA has warned.

The cost of living crisis means ever more animals are facing abandonment and neglect, and the numbers of families considering giving their pets up for adoption have rocketed by 72 per cent, according to the animal welfare charity.

Just last month in South Yorkshire two neglected and ill-fed carpet pythons - one of them eight feet long, the other six feet - were found abandoned in a cardboard box. One was so emaciated it was feared he may not survive.

A dog so skinny he was described by horrified inspectors as 'a walking skeleton', and a puppy found wandering the streets weighing half his expected body weight, were also among the heartbreaking neglected or abandoned case-studies saved by the RSPCA in South Yorkshire in just the last six months.

The charity said such incidents were 'sadly all too common during the cost of living crisis'.

Visits to the RSPCA's 'give up a pet' webpage increased by 72 per cent in the first five months of 2023 compared to the previous period in 2022, and a spokeswoman said: “The economic situation is having a major impact on animal welfare and is believed to be a key factor in the sharp rise of people abandoning their pets.”

Dermot Murphy, RSPCA inspectorate commissioner, added: “Rising abandonment levels, and people simply not being able to afford to keep their pets, are very likely as a result of the cost of living crisis.”

The neglected dog described as 'a walking skeleton' was found barely alive by police in Barnsley in April.

The lurcher-cross, whom rescuers named Lucas, had 98 per cent fur loss due to an untreated skin condition - and a broken tail bone so badly infected that part of it had rotted completely off.

RSPCA inspector Ben Cottle-Shaw, who was sent to collect Lucas from Huddersfield Road, Barnsley, said the dog was the most emaciated he had ever seen who was still clinging to life.

Against the odds, Lucas went on to make a remarkable recovery and has since found his forever home.

A month later a severely emaciated puppy, covered in urine and faeces stains, was found straying in Skellow, Doncaster, and was also believed to have been abandoned.

The vet who examined the six-month-old female spaniel cross, whom rescuers later named Tina, said she was surprised how bright and alert the little dog was given she was only six kilos in weight - at least half that expected - when found.

Tina was transferred to Peak Vets in Sheffield for urgent assessment and treatment and, following an appeal, found a foster family where she continues to make steady progress.

The pair of two-metre-long carpet pythons were found abandoned in South Yorkshire last month, in a cardboard box in Austerfield near Doncaster.

A council worker made the discovery at Loversome Road, and took the reptiles to the RSPCA's animal home in Bawtry before they were rushed for urgent care to a specialist vet.

Both of the young adult snakes are believed to have been abandoned as they were unwanted pets.

The male albino was so severely emaciated he was given a medical body condition score of just one out of five, and was suffering a respiratory infection and mouth rot. Both are now in the care of a reptile specialist until long-term homes can be found for them.

Inspectorate commissioner Dermot Murphy added: “The cost of living crisis is a major threat to animal welfare today, with owners finding keeping pets more expensive and large numbers saying their pets had even suffered as a result of owners having to make changes as a result of financial pressures.

“Sadly, animal welfare is at risk of sliding down people's priorities.

“We understand the financial difficulties some people are experiencing right now. However, abandoning your pet, or not seeking a vet's help if it's needed, is never acceptable. There is help and support available.”