Britons dump their pets as credit crunch bites

Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:47am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britons may have a reputation as animal-lovers but they are increasingly dumping their pets as they struggle to cope with the economic downturn.

The number of abandoned animals soared 57 percent last year to 11,586, according to Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) -- the equivalent of more than 30 a day.

Dumped cats were up by 50 percent and a third more dogs were discarded, the charity said. Horses, farm animals and exotic pets were also being chucked out.

There had also been a 52 percent rise in inquiries from the public looking to give up their pets.

Tim Wass, chief officer of the RSPCA inspectorate, said the cause was "everything to do with the economics about owning a pet" from paying for food to veterinary bills.

"It's a huge rise and I'm afraid that we can only point to economics to find a solution to the current problem," he told BBC radio.

"It's affecting pretty much every animal. We're really struggling to cope at the moment."

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Britain's best-known animal refuge center, located in south London, said in December it was at bursting point after taking in more than 1,000 more strays than it had done a year earlier.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison)

<p>A Dachshund is walked around the parade ring during the Crufts dog show in Birmingham, central England, March 5, 2009. REUTERS/Darren Staples</p>