THE RPSCA has warned it is on "high alert" for a potential surge in abandoned pets in Wales.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic there has been a large increase in pet ownership enquiries.

However, as the reality of pet ownership hits those who adopted a lockdown pet, the animal charity has warned the end of the pandemic could be the "perfect storm" for abandonments.

Dr Samantha Gaines from the RSPCA's companion animal welfare department said: "There's been a huge surge in pet ownership enquiries during Covid-19 restrictions. Many pets will have found their perfect forever homes during the last month - and that’s something to really celebrate.

"However, tragically, abandoned animals is something frontline RSPCA officers have always dealt with in significant numbers - and we fear the combination of a surge in spur-of-the-moment pet ownership during the pandemic, the change in people's circumstances as some normality continues to return, and the economic impacts of the pandemic, could all be a 'perfect storm' for more abandonments.

"With coronavirus restrictions still upon us, and the full economic impact of the pandemic yet to be realised, it is still very early to draw conclusions about what the upcoming impacts will be on animal welfare, and in particular pet abandonments.


"However, we remain on high alert for a potential surge in abandonments and continue to urge anyone struggling with the realities of pet ownership to seek help."

Dr Gaines said she hoped harsher animal cruelty offences would act as a deterrent to irresponsible ownership.

She added: "In Wales, the maximum sentence for some animal cruelty offences - including causing an animal to suffer unnecessarily - is due to increase to five years in June.

"We hope this will act as a general deterrent to irresponsible animal ownership - though it does not specifically deal with abandoned pets.

"With a ban on the third party sale of puppies and kittens on the horizon too, we'd welcome discussions around further measures in Wales which emphasise the importance of responsible ownership and specifically aim to deal with abandonments.

"Research is so important before adding a dog, or any other pet, to the family. Pet ownership can be so rewarding - but it's also a huge, long-term commitment.

"The RSPCA would urge anyone to consider the financial consequences - including if their circumstances were to change - and to remember that Covid restrictions won't last forever; so it's important to be confident you can meet your pet's needs when full normality hopefully soon returns.

"There’s loads to think about - and there’s a wealth of information on the RSPCA website for prospective pet owners.

"If a new pet is right for both you and the animal - a rescue companion is an amazing, rewarding choice; and we'd urge anyone interested to check out our Find a Pet website to begin the rehoming journey.

"If families would still prefer to buy a puppy, we’re encouraging them to use The Puppy Contract. This is a free online tool that will help find responsible breeders and a happy, healthy dog.”