Animal shelter

Welsh animal sanctuary sees more and more abandoned animals as cost of living crisis hits pet owners

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Some of the kittens cared for at Freshfields Animal Rescue Center (Photo: Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre/Facebook)

Dale Spridgeon, local democracy journalist

An animal shelter near Caernarfon is seeing more and more abandoned animals as the cost of living crisis hits pet owners.

The Freshfields Animal Rescue center in Nebo, near Caernarfon, has seen a “huge increase” – particularly in the number of cats and kittens.

The center currently has more kittens than usual and is appealing for help to relocate them.

This increase is thought to be a consequence of the pandemic when sterilization services were harder to access.

The Nebo center says it has also seen a ‘huge increase’ in requests from financially strained pet owners asking for animal food bank and help with veterinary costs.

Freshfield’s experience is echoed by recent figures from the RSPCA. The charity said it received 3,644 calls last year (2021) categorized as ‘help with vet bills’ – a 12% year-on-year growth.

He has seen a year-on-year increase in the number of some pets in his care – in the first five months of 2022 the charity has taken in 49% more rabbits, 14% more cats and 3% more dogs than at the same time in 2021.

The RSPCA’s Animal Kindness Index also found the cost of living crisis to be one of the biggest threats to animal welfare in the UK.

Some 68% of pet owners feared the cost of pet care would rise and 19% worried about being able to feed their pets, it revealed.

“Many Kittens”

Refuge Nebo – itself a charity – has also felt the pinch of rising prices on its own reserves.

It has seen fewer pet food donations at its Caernarfon and Bangor Tesco collection points.

Jacqueline Leggatt, the centre’s director, said: ‘Supermarket pet food donations have continued to be used in difficult times, but are slowing down as people have less money available to make us a Don.

“But more worryingly, we are seeing an increase in the number of people abandoning their pets. People are finding it increasingly difficult to afford to feed their animals or pay veterinary bills.

“We currently have a lot of kittens looking for homes, more than usual. We are also seeing that the cat pairs are proving much more difficult to reintegrate as people are less willing to bear the double cost.

‘Tips’

The shelter often has waiting lists and sometimes has trouble taking on other animals.

“We are never empty, sometimes we have to explain on the phone that we can no longer accommodate. But we’ve had people so desperate that they come anyway and leave animals outside our door.

“We’ve even had people threaten to kill their pets. We don’t want people to feel so hopeless. We are seeing more and more people contacting us for advice and asking where to get help with pet food and vet bills.

“We can direct them to help, and we’re doing what we can to keep pets and their owners together.”

The center currently has 50 horses on loan.

Jacqueline said: “We are concerned that some of these horses will come back to us as feed and straw costs soar.”

“A lot of people are embarrassed to ask for help, but we don’t judge anyone.

“We’d rather people ask for our help and point them in the right direction before they do something desperate like abandoning their pets.”

Information

To donate pet food to Freshfields or to adopt an animal, visit www.freshfields.co.uk or their facebook page.

The charity is happy to offer advice and are also keen to hear from anyone who can help donate pet food or adopt an animal.

Contact Freshfields on 01286 880808.

RSPCA branches across Wales have recently come together to form a national food bank. The Wales Pet Food Bank secures dog and cat food donations from suppliers and delivers them to RSPCA hubs.

The program has seen donations made to organizations in North Wales, including Bangor Food Bank and Conwy Food Bank.

See the RSPCA website for more information.


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