Animal centres have ‘never been fuller’

Senior animal rescue officer Billy Elliott with a cat needing a home
Senior animal rescue officer Billy Elliott with a cat needing a home
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Soaring number of abandoned pets at Worthing animal centres

Centres have become full as increasing numbers of pet-owners abandon large numbers of cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and even chickens, donkeys and horses.

Billy Elliott, senior animal rescue officer at Worthing and Disctrict Animal Rescue Service (WADARS), said the charity was spending around £2,000 a week to keep their abandoned cats and dogs.

He said when he started at WADARS 15 years ago, the charity was re-homing around 100 cats, 50 dogs and 30 to 40 rabbits and guinea pigs a year.

Now, that figure has soared to 300 cats, 280 dogs and more than 150 guinea pigs and rabbits.

He said: “It’s hard. We have to pay boarding kennels to look after our animals and we pay about £8 a day for a dog and £6 a day for cats. So the figure quickly adds up when you have lots of cats and dogs.

“It’s a tremendous drain on the charity.”

Billy said many of the animals were being abandoned by people moving into new accommodation where pets were not allowed.

Many were often failing to give animal charities sufficient notice before abandoning their pets.

He added: “If people are moving to a position where they need to part with their pets, if they can give us as much notice as possible it helps. A lot of the time we get calls from people who need us to take their pets that day, when they’ve probably known they were moving to a new place for months.”

Stacey McSpirit, custodian of Paws Animal Sanctuary, in Findon, said she had never seen rescue centres so full in the 30 years she had been re-homing animals.

She said: “I’ve never seen it like this before. From 7 or 8 in the morning to midnight I get people calling me to say ‘sorry it’s so late, we need to get rid of an animal today’.

“Last week, we took two cats that were about to be thrown into a river and a cat being abused by a child.

“A lot of these people might have lost a job and are moving to a new place that doesn’t take pets. Other people can’t afford the cost of vet bills.

“A lot of it is to do with the recession.”

Jackie Riddles, from Worthing Cat Welfare, said some pet owners were not taking responsibility for their animals.

She said: “We’ve got so many and I’m not getting people wanting to re-home them. I think there’s a throw-away culture and sometimes it’s the pets that are affected.

“Animals are a responsibility for life and people don’t seem to take responsibility for their animals anymore.”

To meet the growing need to re-home animals, Stacey is hoping to raise funds for a large animal rescue sanctuary on a site just outside of Worthing.

Paws is now calling on donations towards the planned facility, which would cost around £700,000.

To donate, phone 01903 872734.

To see the animals needing new homes, visit wadars.co.uk, worthingcatwelfare.co.uk and pawsanimalsanctuaryfindon.co.uk