East Sussex animal charity experiencing crisis due to rising numbers of owners giving up pets

A major East Sussex charity says it is experiencing an ‘animal welfare crisis’ caused by the current cost-of-living pressures.
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Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare in Ringmer says it is struggling to cope with the increasing number of animals coming into their care.

The charity says as more people are looking to give up their pets because owners are experiencing cost-of-living pressures, as well as changes in their circumstances, meaning they are not able to cope with their lockdown pets.

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Matt Gough, head of Animal Welfare at Raystede, said: "We are staring straight into an animal welfare crisis. It's a crisis that affects all the species in our care, which is a very unusual and unprecedented situation to be in.”

The charity says this issue is being reported by many animal charities across the nation, with many centres already full and others close to capacity.The charity says this issue is being reported by many animal charities across the nation, with many centres already full and others close to capacity.
The charity says this issue is being reported by many animal charities across the nation, with many centres already full and others close to capacity.

The charity has had more than 2,500 requests people giving up their pets – around 50% more than the same time last year - with the demand for rescue dogs declining in the past year.

The charity says this issue is being reported by many animal charities across the nation, with many centres already full and others close to capacity.

Many rescue centres, Raystede included, have seen an influx of dogs with behavioural issues.

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This centre says this is in line with studies indicating that inexperienced dog owners are giving up dogs they acquired during lockdown and are now unable to care for, due to a variety of factors, such as a lack of opportunities for training and socialisation.

Raystede has also seen an increase in the number of cats needing rehoming for similar reasons as a result of the lockdown, but the charity says it is also seeing a lot of elderly cats with health issues.

Matt said: “Animals are much-loved members of the family and we don’t want anyone to have to give up their beloved pet if they don’t want to.

"We are always at the end of the phone to help with any advice if you’re having difficulties with your animal’s health or behaviour. Our Education Team are out and about every week in the local community giving out free advice, health and microchip checks and free poo bags.”

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The charity itself say it is also experiencing rising costs in caring for the animals, particularly in heating and lighting.

Stephanie Smith, Raystede CEO, said: “We have been through such trying times in the last couple of years with the pandemic and lengthy closures which caused a huge drop in our income.

"In addition, there have been the avian flu restrictions, storms and heatwaves and now the increases in all our costs. We completely understand that people are struggling - we are too. But we have to be there for the animals.

"Whatever we can do to help people either keep their animals, or if they have no alternative but to give them up, we will do our utmost to find them good homes. But we need to work together so please, if you can foster or rehome an animal do come forward – we need you. Or, if you need help or advice, please contact us, we are here for you and the animals.”