Abandoned pets on rise, says RSPCA

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Media captionMore than 40,000 animals were rejected by their owners last year alone

The number of animals being abandoned has risen sharply as pet owners struggle to afford the cost of living, animal charity the RSPCA has said.

It said 40,595 were abandoned in 2011, in England and Wales, compared with 24,638 in 2007.

The RSPCA's Gavin Grant said pets were the "silent victims" of recession and his charity was "struggling to cope".

The RSPCA was finding it hard to rehome abandoned pets, with 12,711 dogs moved in 2011, compared with 16,659 in 2009.

And the charity rehomed 29,880 cats in 2011, less than the 36,070 two years before.

Both species were taking longer to rehabilitate and rehome than a year ago, which means their average cost of stay was also rising, the RSPCA said.

It estimated that, despite efficiency savings, the charity's running costs have increased 8%, from £111m to £120m.

Mr Grant, the charity's chief executive, said: "The recession may be over but these are very dark times for its silent victims - the animals. They have never needed our help so desperately.

"Preventing cruelty and helping the animals most in need are the RSPCA's absolute priorities but the number of abused and abandoned animals is soaring."

"This is a real crisis and despite the immense dedication of our staff and volunteers, we are struggling to cope."

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