The RSPCA is urging struggling pet owners in Wigan not to dump animals, after it received more than 10,000 calls about abandoned animals.
The shocking number of abandonments came in just three months over the course of last summer, with the third highest number of calls coming from Greater Manchester.
Now, the charity is braced for a summer welfare crisis as calls about abandoned animals across England and Wales soared by 50 per cent in June to August last year compared to the colder months, with London topping the list of the worst counties for animal abandonment complaints with 892 calls, the West Midlands coming a close second (624 calls) followed by Greater Manchester with 617 calls.
The number of abandoned animals taken in by the charity nationally also peaked in June last year, with 850 dumped pets rescued.
Summer is the busiest season for the charity and the warmer months of 2017 saw more than 10,000 calls nationally to its 24-hour emergency hotline about dumped pets - one every 12 minutes.
Those calls involved anything from cats left on the street alone and sick, horses abandoned at the side of the road close to death, to dogs dumped and left for dead.
The RSPCA’s superintendent for the North West, Martin Marsh said: “Greater Manchester is the third busiest place in the country for reports of abandoned animals during the summer, with our emergency line taking 617 calls last year in just those three summer months alone.
“We see every type of animal abandoned from dogs, cats and small animals to horses, farm animals and even exotic animals like pythons just left out on the street in their vivariums.
“Every animal has specific welfare needs and it’s so dangerous to leave any animal abandoned and having to fend for itself.”
Last summer, the RSPCA’s team of inspectors and officers investigated more complaints of abandoned animals than they had done for two years.
Martin added: “There’s no saying why people choose to abandon their animals, or why this rises in the summer - possibly people dump their animals when they head off on holiday and haven’t found anyone to look after their pet when they’re away. Or maybe they feel less guilty, leaving a pet to fend for itself in the warmer weather, compared to the cold winter months.
“No doubt there are a number of factors - for examples when people’s circumstances change and they are no longer be in a position to look after their pet. However, we sadly see a number of abandoned animals with very serious injuries or illness, which is just heartbreaking.”
This summer, the RSPCA has already seen a distressing number of sick and neglected animals dumped in the north, including a parakeet dumped in a supermarket carrier bag in Bradford.
“Abandoning pets should never be seen as a solution to a problem, and we are urging pet owners to take responsibility for their animals,” Martin went on.
“When people take on a new pets - whatever that animal may be they do need to research it, make sure it will suit their lifestyle and that they have sufficient resources to provide for it for the entirety of its life - however long that may be.”
The RSPCA advises that if pet owners are going away on holiday, they make sure their pet is cared for by asking friends or family to care for them, calling a pet sitter or taking them to a licensed boarding establishment.
If you’d like to help the RSPCA as the charity faces yet another busy summer rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming thousands of animals, please visit www.rspca.org.uk/penny