RSPCA launches annual Adoptober campaign to promote adoption of rescued animals as new figures reveal more animals are coming into shelters while the rate of rehoming has slowed
The RSPCA has launched its annual Adoptober campaign encouraging prospective pet owners to consider giving a rescued animal a new home as new figures raise concerns that more animals are being relinquished to charities at a time when rehoming has slowed.
The animal welfare charity - which operates 14 national rehoming centres across England and Wales, while supporting a network of branches with an additional 45 animal shelters - has released new figures that show rehoming has dropped 10% while animal intake is up 8.4% year-on-year.
The RSPCA’s annual Adoptober rehoming drive has kicked off today - coinciding with World Animal Day (4 October) - and will run throughout this month, promoting adoption and highlighting the many animals the charity has waiting to find their perfect match.
The charity fears that the cost of living crisis means more animals are coming into its care while less people are considering taking on a new pet.
Releasing new figures today (4 October), the RSPCA has highlighted a potential animal rescue crisis as more animals come into care, stay in rescue centres for longer, with less people coming forward to adopt.
In 2021, the RSPCA’s network of centres and branches rehomed 26,945 animals; an 8% drop compared to the previous year when 29,358 animals were rehomed, despite the Covid pandemic affecting the way in which charities across the nation could rehome.
The number of dogs rehomed by the charity also fell 6% from 4,877 in 2020 to 4,567 in 2021; while cats dropped 12% from 17,868 in 2020 to 15,579 in 2021.
At the same time, the average stay for an animal (the number of days they spend in RSPCA care from being ready to rehome to leaving for their new home) also increased for dogs by 9.4% - from 85 days in 2020 to 93 days in 2021 - and for rabbits - from 104 in 2020 to 117 in 2021, an increase of 12.5%. Cats length of stay remained the same at 67 days.
Pet welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said: “It’s really concerning to see that animals are staying in our care for longer and that less are being rehomed year-on-year. Unfortunately, we believe we’re really starting to see the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.
“Many of the animals - particularly dogs - who are coming into our care have behavioural challenges which could be linked to how they were bred as well as lockdown limiting the amount of training, socialising and outside world experience they had.
“We’re also beginning to see more animals coming into our care because their owners simply couldn’t afford to care for them any more; or, in the most extreme cases, having been neglected or abandoned due to the rising cost of pet care.
“Sadly, this is coming at the same time that potential pet owners are deciding now is not the best time to take on an animal due to the soaring cost of living, and feeling they cannot financially commit to adding a pet to their family at such a worrying time.
“For those who are able to bring a pet into their home, we are urging them to really consider adopting rather than buying. Many of our animals will already be neutered, vaccinated and treated for fleas and worms - making it much more cost-effective - and we will work them to make sure they find their perfect match.”
In 2021, the RSPCA saw more dogs, rabbits and other pets (including small furries, pet birds, farm animals and exotics) coming into its care than in 2020. Intake for cats and horses fell by 1.7% and 18.1%, respectively.
Last year, the charity rescued:
• 7,412 dogs - 11.9% more than the 6,624 in 2020;
• 7.1% more rabbits (2,731 compared to 2,549);
• 6% more other pets (5,900 compared to 5,566).
The RSPCA’s Animal Kindness Index - released earlier this year - highlighted the impact the cost of living crisis is having on pet owners. The survey found that 68% of pet owners were concerned about the increasing cost of pet care while 19% were worried about being able to afford to feed their pets.
Figures released by the charity in August revealed that its cruelty line was receiving more than 100 reports a day of animals being abandoned throughout 2021; and the concern is that the cost of living crisis could lead to this riding even higher.
Long-stays looking for love
The RSPCA is searching for homes for hundreds of animals at the moment, with many more in its care who are not quite ready to go to their new families. Here are some of their longest-stay residents:
• Four-year-old terrier Yoko arrived at Cotswolds Dogs & Cats Home, Gloucestershire, in May 2021 and has been patiently waiting for her forever home for a very long 19 months. He’s a cheeky chap with a big personality but he has a strong hunting drive so will need owners who understand this. He’s very clever and needs lots of stimulation to keep him busy.
• Lurcher Clover has been waiting at Bristol Animal Rescue Centre for her forever home for almost 18 months. She’s an active and clever girl who loves spending time with people and playing with bouncy balls. She’s got a high chase instinct so will need to be kept on the lead when out walking but loves to run free in a secure garden or paddock. This loving and affectionate girl is looking for her perfect match and would ideally like an adult-only home without other pets.
• Ten-year-old German Shepherd Jake has spent almost two years waiting for his forever home at RSPCA Southridge Animal Centre, Hertfordshire. He’s a sweet, affectionate boy who loves sitting with you for cuddles and going on long walks. He’s described as ‘everybody’s best friend’ but can be a little nervous of other dogs which causes him to bark so he’s looking for a home with experienced owners who can help him moving forwards.
• RSPCA Birmingham Animal Centre is hoping to find a special home for a pair of beautiful Alaskan Malamutes who have been in their care for 18 months. Six-year-old Joe and eight-year-old Zac had been living as part of a large pack at a site in Wales and have never lived inside a home before. They’d like a home without other pets or children and ideally would go to someone with experience of the breed. They are big boys (at more than 30kg each) and have big hearts with lots of love to give to the right people.
• Four-year-old German shepherd cross Kobe (pictured) was brought overseas as a puppy before moving to the UK. He was taken in by Stubbington Ark, Hampshire, and has been waiting over a year for his forever home. He can be reactive towards strangers and dogs so needs continued training. He has formed close bonds with our staff and acts like a big puppy around them. He loves toys, cuddles on the sofa and playing new games and learning tricks.
Could you offer a rescue pet a loving new home? Please visit Find A Pet to see all of the animals currently in our care who are looking for their paw-fect match.
If you can’t offer a rescue pet a new home perhaps you could help in a different way?
• Become a fosterer for a sick pet recovering from surgery or a youngster who needs to learn how to behave in a home;
• Help us continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming by donating online or calling our donation line on 0300 123 8181;
• Sponsor a cat pod or a dog kennel and help take care of the animals during their stay with us;
• Support the work of your local centre or branch by becoming a volunteer or donating to them directly.