Cash-strapped Britons are ditching their pets as the cost of living soars

LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Standing on her hind legs to greet any potential owner who might approach her glassed-in kennel, Harriet is an abandoned black English cocker spaniel as a mounting cost of living crisis pushes growing numbers of Britons to separate from their pets.

She was found running along a busy road in London after witnesses saw her pushed out of a car and is among 206 dogs and 164 cats currently being cared for in foster care managed by Battersea animal charity.

It’s a similar story at other centers across the country – some are seeing record demands for dog and cat returns – as the tightest pressure on living standards since at least the 1960s forces many owners to decide the additional cost of food plus hundreds of pounds and vet bills are no longer manageable.

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“We fear this is a growing reason for people to bring their dogs to Battersea,” Steve Craddock, who runs the center in south-west London, told Reuters.

Exotic pets such as snakes and lizards also prove too expensive due to their need for specialized heating and lighting.

Three snakes, including an 8ft (2.4m) boa constrictor, were recently dumped in pillowcases outside a reptile shop, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) told Reuters .

The trend, which follows a surge in demand for pets during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns in a country known for its love of animals, comes as households brace for higher utility bills. energy more than tripled in January of last year, hammering people’s incomes.

The Bank of England has warned Britain of a long recession.


Dogs Trust, which currently has 692 dogs in 21 centers across the country, said the last time it saw anything like this was following the financial crash of 2008.

“This cost-of-living crisis has snuck up on us much faster than people imagined,” said the Trust’s chief operating officer, Adam Clowes.

Such is the pressure that the charity is considering extending an emergency support fund, normally reserved for people on welfare who need short-term financial support to keep their pets, to people middle income.

Animal charities say they are also worried the pressure on living standards will impact donations, although they don’t see it yet.

At Battersea some pets are accommodated. Magpie is a British shorthair cat who became pregnant after her owner of two years realized they couldn’t afford the kittens. All of her four kittens have found new homes.

But that is unlikely to be the case for most animals, with another charity, Woodgreen, saying animal adoption applications have fallen to 100 a month from around 10,000 during the lockdowns.

Pilar Gómez-Igbo, deputy editor, could have been a potential owner, but after doing some research she is now worried about the additional costs.

“As the change in the cost of living became more evident, yes definitely, it joined the list of things to seriously consider,” she said. “I’m going to make me wait a bit.”

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Reporting by Muvija M; Editing by Kate Holton and Alex Richardson

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