Oxfordshire Branch

Why do some people dump pets?

We’ve seen an unusual increase of animals coming into our care after being found abandoned recently. Last winter the RSPCA recorded more than 50 animals a day coming into our regional branches and those numbers are only increasing after the recent surge in pet ownership.



Most commonly abandoned were dogs, but we have seen horses, lots of kittens, and young rabbits as well. Sterling and Harry are two such rabbits that were found on the Ridgeway during the Euro’s, hence the names!

RSPCA Inspector Sharon Chrisp, who investigated the case, said at the time: ‘Sadly, the RSPCA is called to many cases where rabbits have been abandoned in their cages. Rabbits are one of the nation’s most popular pets, but we often see them abandoned when owners decide they no longer want them or can’t cope with their needs.’ Oxford Mail press release

We’re pleased to say that both rabbits made a full recovery, and we even have a recent photo of Harry, in his new home, below.

We believe that most unwanted pets have become too much to handle, whether that’s because of the time it takes to care for them, the cost of their care, or vet bills. In the case of small furies, like rabbits, it’s often a case of the parents having to take over the responsibility from children who have begun to lose interest.

And recently, since lockdown restrictions ended and people are returning to their workplaces, there is less time for necessary cares, and in some animals, separation disorders are becoming apparent.

The real question is though, why would someone choose to abandon an animal, rather than bring it in to a rescue centre?

It is a huge misconception that domesticated animals can survive in the wild. Rabbits, for example, despite digging up your garden do not know how to build a warren; cats become feral very quickly and although they may be adept at catching birds and mice, they cannot cope with the diseases they will become exposed to; and dogs will become a danger to themselves as well as the local community, risking traffic accidents among other things.

Perhaps a person who abandons an animal is fearful of admitting failure or is ashamed that they have let down another living being, and they’d rather not admit that. It’s understandable that someone would feel embarrassed or even irresponsible for taking on an animal that they ultimately couldn’t cope with.

However, it’s far more admirable to admit defeat and offer the animal the best chance to live a long and healthy life in the care of others, than to leave it to fend for itself in the wild.

There is no shame in admitting defeat, there is no prosecution or financial forfeit for bringing an animal in for adoption and all RSPCA staff are professional, caring people who will not reprimand or admonish anyone who brings in a pet.

We support animals’ rehabilitation from neglect and poor treatment. You can make our job easier and help pets into a loving home quicker, by spreading the word that there is no shame in giving an animal up for adoption.