Animal sanctuaries are seeing an ‘overwhelming’ number of pets left at their door due to the cost of living crisis.
Staff say rising demand for their services coupled with skyrocketing bills have led to ‘sleepless nights’.
The cost of food, pet insurance and vet bills are all taking their toll on finances – which has a knock-on effect on the animals.
At the Bristol Animal Rescue Centre (Bristol Arc), bills have risen by £17,000.
Dr Damian Pacini, principle vet at the charity, told Metro.co.uk: ‘This winter is going to be challenging for everyone, as the rising cost of living continues to affects us. Pets might also suffer, as families struggle to afford their care.
‘This year we estimate our own energy bill will go up by £17,000. Unwanted pets continue to arrive at our doors in need of help, as the cost of living crisis affects their owners.’
The number of people receiving help from Bristol Arc’s Outreach vets and nurses is up 54% since last year.
What’s more, the team are forecasting ‘an even bigger leap’ over the winter months as the knock-on effects of the cost of living crisis further affect pet owners across Bristol.
Dr Pacini added: ‘Ultimately all of this will put more pressure on our already stretched team.
‘As we are a charity that relies almost entirely on donations from the local community to keep going, fundraising is tough for us in the current climate, when everyone is feeling the pinch.
‘For us, the welfare of our animals comes first, so we will do everything we can to continue to offer the exceptionally high standard of animal care that we already do.
‘We’ve been supporting animals in Bristol for 135 years and weathered all sorts of challenging situations in the past. We are determined that we will continue to do so – but we need support to do it.’
Bristol Arc is bolstered by 120 volunteers, without which they would struggle to care for the vast amount of animals in their care.
A Christmas Appeal has been launched to help make ends meet this winter for the charity.
The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH), in conjunction with ITV’s Tonight programme, recently surveyed more than 60 animal shelters across the country about how they were responding to the cost of living crisis.
The figures revealed 92% of shelters were seeing more people wanting to hand over a dog compared with pre-pandemic levels, and 88% were seeing more people wanting to hand over cats.
More than half were planning on opening pet food banks to respond to the crisis, and 30% were thinking about providing low-cost or free veterinary care.
Meanwhile RSPCA has recorded a 24% increase in pets being dumped this year as shelters report they are ‘drowning in animals’ amid the cost of living.
The same situation has been seen by the Dogs Trust, with shelters facing long waiting lists and many setting up pet food banks.
Sue Curran, centre manager and rescue founder of the Pennine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, is taking similar drastic measures.
The charity is currently raising funds for a new home after facing an eviction battle.
Worries over a new home and concerns over rising costs are ‘hanging over the heads’ off staff daily.
Sue told Metro.co.uk: ‘The phone is ringing all the time as people call to give up their animals. It gets very depressing.
‘We’re now in the process of setting up our own animal foodbank to try combat the overwhelming number of pets being abandoned due to the cost of living crisis.’
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