The RSPCA is "begging" people not to dump their pets amid rising concerns about neglect and abandonment of animals due to the cost of living crisis.
The charity is asking owners to seek help following a 25% rise in abandonments this year, as well as a 13% increase in neglect incidents.
It is appealing to people who are in a position to donate to join the Christmas Rescue at a time when "any contribution could make the difference between life and death for animals this winter".
READ MORE: People are threatening to put down their dogs due to the cost-of-living crisis
In recent weeks RSPCA teams have rescued three eight-week-old puppies, including one who died, dumped in a food waste bin in Kent, four puppies left in a garden in Warrington, and a puppy discarded in a carrier bag in West Yorkshire.
It has also saved five puppies with their umbilical cords still attached found in a box in London, two cats who had been abandoned after giving birth to kittens in the West Midlands, and nine rabbits shoved into a wheelie bin in Nottinghamshire.
Up to October, RSPCA rescuers dealt with 13,159 incidents of abandonment, up from 10,519 over the same time period last year, while there had been 30,500 incidents of neglect, compared to 27,521 over the same period in 2021.
Dermot Murphy, who heads the RSPCA's rescue teams, said: "We're extremely sympathetic to anyone struggling with rising costs at this difficult time but we're begging people not to dump their pets," adding: "It is never the answer. Please, please ask for help.
"We've sadly seen a shocking rise in the number of incidents of animal abandonment and neglect our rescuers are dealing with.
"My fear is that we'll see increasing cases of animals neglected and abandoned this Christmas as families struggle with soaring bills."
He added: "Our branches and centres are full to bursting and we have hundreds of pets waiting to get in. We really need animal lovers to help us get through this crisis time."
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RSPCA pet food banks are helping struggling owners in a scheme that has seen branches partnering with food banks, with tens of thousands of meals already donated, transported and handed out.
The animal charity recently opened a helpline to support people who are worried about the cost of living crisis.
Mr Murphy added that the situation could get worse this Christmas and that growing numbers of pets were "hungry, sick, neglected and running out of time".
He added: "That's why it's vital that our animal rescue teams can be on the road and ready to rescue animals this winter.
"We're appealing to people who are in the position to donate to please join the Christmas Rescue at a time when any contribution could make the difference between life and death for animals this winter."
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