January 29, 2023

The Cost of Living Crisis: Concern over rise in abandoned pets

Article link copied.

slide image

Portrait of an abandoned puppy

Picture by: Ivan Radic | flickr

The number of abandoned pets rose significantly last year, RSPCA reports. This comes on top of other issues, as the cost of living crisis is biting into charities’ budgets alongside fewer volunteers who can afford to provide their help.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) reports a 24% increase of animals that are being abandoned in 2022.

Dogs Trust, the largest dog welfare charity in the UK, has voiced its concern about the impact the increased cost of living is having on pet owners. It has received a record number of calls from dog owners, who are unsure whether they could make it through the winter, while hardly making enough to provide for their families.

Many more organisations are also concerned about the financial problems owners might have to solve this winter combined with the consequences of the COVID-19 pet adoption boom.

Mentioned in this article:

The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes

‘Leading representative charity for dog and cat rescue and rehoming organisations across eight jurisdictions in the British Isles’.


Learn more

An RSPCA representative shared with Harbingers’ a survey conducted by the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) about the impact of the cost of living crisis and COVID-19.

ADCH reports that last October less than 40% of rescue centres for animals said that they will be operating at the same level as before, whereas in March more than half were sure they could keep up with the workload. It was also concerned about the surge of rising costs and the rise in the number of animals, with 83% seeing an increase in animal product costs, 81% an increase in energy costs, 74% an increase in food costs, and 60% reported more dogs were abandoned in October 2022 compared to both March 2021 and 2020.

ADCH described the trend as “very worrying”, adding: “It highlights the combined increased demand for services with the loss of volunteers and the rise in energy, food and veterinary costs.”

What the report highlights is how the cost of living crisis not only impacts individuals, but also rescue centres and the lives of volunteers, who are relied heavily on to keep centres running. The costs for veterinary care rose, with external veterinary costs increasing by 95% and in-house veterinary costs by 83%. Medicine costs have also risen, as fewer people are able to provide for the charities since it is more difficult to donate as much as before.

Owen Sharp, CEO of Dogs Trust, said: “The UK is fast heading towards a situation in which, due to the cost-of-living crisis, we’ll have a surplus of dogs whose owners need to give them up, but a deficit of people who can afford to take on a new dog. If you’re struggling to afford looking after your own dog, we’ll do all we can to help. I’m afraid we can’t promise miracles, but we’re always here to listen without judgement, talk through the options and give dog owners the benefit of our expert knowledge.”

The COVID-19 adoption rise and its consequences are also highlighted in the survey. The impact has been seen by rescue centres, with 96% reporting more dogs coming in with behavioural issues, 60% saw an increase in cats with behavioural issues, and 90% saw more dogs with medical issues.

These results are correlating with the fact that people who adopted animals during the pandemic were ‘mostly unprepared and did not have experience owning a pet before’, ADCH reports in the survey.

Halita Obineche, Executive Director of ADCH, said: “There was a huge surge in people getting pets in lockdown and we are dealing with the fallout. Inexperienced owners unable to manage pets with behavioural issues caused by poor training and a lack of socialisation; workers returning to the office; and now the rising cost of living, all combining to create a national animal welfare crisis.”

Written by:


Sofia Radysh

Science Section Editor

Animal welfare correspondent

Kyiv, Ukraine | London, United Kingdom

Born in 2005, Sofia lived in Kyiv, but now, because of the war, is a refugee in London. She is interested in animal welfare and how current events and social media impact the lives of our four-legged friends, and writes about this in Harbingers’ Magazine.

In 2022, she took over from Isaac Kadas as the second editor-in-chief of Harbingers’ Magazine.

In her free time, she does dog training and film-making. She likes getting out of her comfort zone and trying new things out.

Sofia speaks Ukrainian, English, Russian and a bit of German.


Create an account to continue reading

A free account will allow you to bookmark your favourite articles and submit an entry to the Harbinger Prize 2024.

You can also sign up for the Harbingers’ Weekly Brief newsletter.