Animal Rescues ‘At Breaking Point’ Due To Influx Of Dogs

More dogs are being given up and fewer people are adopting


3 Minutes Read

Dog in a shelter Shelters are being inundated with dogs - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Dog rescue charities in the UK are struggling with the number of dogs who need rehoming, with one rescue owner warning it may result in a “mass cull” of dogs.

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Lisa Cartwright, who runs Greyhound Gap in Staffordshire, told the BBC that dog charities are “at breaking point.” She currently has 70 dogs in her care but said it’s increasingly difficult to find homes for them. She blamed over-breeding and a lack of regulation and warned the surging number of dogs being given up could lead to a cull. Charities and local councils that take in stray dogs may put them to sleep as a last resort if they are too sick or injured to recover or if they can’t be rehomed due to severe behavioral problems.

Kelly Hare, founder of Safe Rescue for Dogs in Norfolk, told the Eastern Daily Press that her charity has also seen an “influx” of dogs lately. She believes it’s “due to the cost of living crisis, the increase of vet fees and people’s mental and physical health declining.”

Lockdown dog craze wanes

There was a boom in people getting new companion animals during the 2020 Covid lockdown, with 11 percent of households buying or adopting an animal. But in 2023, the RSPCA reported that 72 percent of people in the UK were not planning to get a new companion animal. Meanwhile there had been a six percent increase in the number of dogs being surrendered.

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Though the easing of lockdown restrictions resulted in an increase in people wanting to give up their “lockdown dogs,” this may no longer explain the growing number of dogs in shelters. Vanessa Rigby, who volunteers at Greyhound Gap told the BBC, “We’re four years on from Covid and the dogs that are coming in aren’t four years old.”

Rather, like Kelly Hare, she thinks the cost of living crisis is more to blame.

Rising vet bills

Dog at the vet
Friends Stock – Vet bills have become unaffordable for many people

Increased vet bills is one of the main costs that people have struggled to cover. According to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), vet bills have risen more than any other goods or services in the last couple of years.

As a result, the CMA has launched a full investigation into the vet industry to assess whether companies have been overcharging customers.

Dogs have been going without medical care due to its expense. Some have been abandoned as a result, leaving charities to “pick up the pieces.” This has created a further barrier to adoption as people are less willing to adopt dogs with complex needs resulting from a lack of prompt veterinary attention.

Not all people struggling with increased costs give up their dogs as a result. According to one survey, 34 percent of animal guardians, particularly those with dogs, are cutting costs elsewhere in order to be able to keep their companion.

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