West Sussex animal abandonment incidents 'risen sharply' over last 3 years

Animal abandonment incidents have risen sharply in West Sussex over the last three years, compared to 2020, the RSPCA has said.
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The animal welfare charity has today (Wednesday, November 22) released new data that show abandonments have been spiralling amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Already this year, up to the end of October, the animal welfare charity said it has received 17,838 reports of abandoned animals across England and Wales - which, if such trends continue, would equate to 21,417 reports over 2023.

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This compares with 16,118 reports during the whole of 2020, meaning the RSPCA is on course to see a 32.9 per cent rise in abandonment calls this year, it said.

The tortoises that were found abandoned in a cardboard box in Horsham. Picture: RSPCAThe tortoises that were found abandoned in a cardboard box in Horsham. Picture: RSPCA
The tortoises that were found abandoned in a cardboard box in Horsham. Picture: RSPCA

The charity added it is higher too than the number of reports received in 2021 (17,179) and 2022 (19,645).

In West Sussex, the charity said it is on course to receive 195 reports of animal abandonment this year, marking a 37.9 per cent rise on the number of reports received in the community in 2020.

Dermot Murphy, who heads the RSPCA frontline rescue teams, said: “The combined effects of the pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis has created a perfect storm, and means we expect more animals than ever will need our help this year.“Abandonment calls to our emergency line are now at a three-year high, as we respond to an increasing number of animals being given up and dumped.

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“Behind these shocking statistics are thousands of vulnerable animals. Each one is a valuable life in urgent need of our help.

“We’re desperately concerned about the coming winter months in West Sussex - abandonments have soared and many rescue centres are full to bursting, so we are facing an unprecedented winter crisis.“Our rescue teams are set to be busier than ever this Christmas - so we need animal lovers to join the Christmas rescue and donate to help us be there for animals in desperate need as neglect and abandonment soars.”

In January, two tortoises were lucky to survive after being abandoned in a cardboard box in Horsham.

On the day they were found, temperatures in West Sussex had dropped as low as five Celsius, the RSPCA said.

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It said these Mediterranean tortoises need to be kept in a warm environment between 20°C and 25°C during the day and 15°C at night, if they are not being hibernated over winter.

Fortunately, the pair were in good health and RSPCA inspector Tony Woodley was able to find space for them at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Grays.

Dermot added: “For nearly 200 years, the RSPCA has been working tirelessly to bring animals to safety and give them the expert treatment and compassion they deserve.

“We’ll continue to do so for as long as we’re needed but we can’t do that without the support of fellow animal lovers. Together, we could save more lives.

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“The support of the public helps neglected and abandoned animals in so many ways - from buying soft, warm bedding and nourishing food for an animal who’s desperately cold and hungry, to funding vital vet care for an animal who is suffering and in pain.”

This year the RSPCA is asking supporters to Join the Christmas Rescue by donating to help rescue teams reach the thousands of animals who desperately need them.

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