Calls about pet neglect and abandonment to the RSPCA are reaching a three-year high, with more than 16,000 abandonments reported to the charity’s emergency line in the first nine months of 2023 – an increase of more than 7% on the same period last year.
At Holly Hedge, the numbers come as no surprise. Nine out of 10 calls to the sanctuary are coming from owners asking to surrender a pet, with the cost of living crisis increasingly to blame.
The phones do not stop ringing in the meeting room that has hastily been repurposed as the charity’s reception after the old reception building started to fall down and was deemed unsafe.
“The number of people coming forward to adopt has dropped massively, so dogs remain here for longer,” says Hill. “We thought the number of dogs surrendered after lockdown was the worst we’d ever seen. And then the cost of living crisis hit, and it got so much worse.”