Pet rescue services in West Sussex are struggling to care for abandoned animals after a dramatic drop in adoptions and donations this year.
In Horsham there have been only ten recorded cases of abandoned animals in the last two years and even fewer among the South Down villages, but Crawley leads the way with 50 recorded incidents.
In an appeal, the chief executive of the Southwater-based RSPCA, Gavin Grant, has said animal welfare is at ‘crisis point’ nationwide and rescue services are ‘overwhelmed with animals in dire need’.
Already feeling the strain, Horsham cattery Sussex North Branch is a three-year-old charity run solely by volunteers.
Jo Worsley, chairman of the charity, explained: “This year we’ve seen an increase in owners wanting to offload their cats on to us, either due to a marriage breakdown or financial reasons, so we’ve found it very difficult keeping up with demands.
“We really need people to adopt the cats we have, but it’s been very slow.
“We don’t have our own animal shelter so we use private boarding and every time a cat comes in it costs us money, but donations are also down.”
More than 10,000 fewer cats and dogs across the country were adopted by the public last year than previous years – a trend that has deteriorated further in 2012.
To try and prevent this, the cattery provides a service to help low income families and those on benefits care for their beloved pets.
Mrs Worsley continued: “We help out with neutering costs, veterinary treatments and educating owners.”
All cats that come to the cattery are micro-chipped, vaccinated, wormed, neutered and receive a full health check before moving to a new home.
Pat Berwick, re-homing coordinator, is responsible for matching a feline with the right owner. She explained that kittens are the most popular choice amongst residents but older cats, especially those with health issues, are much harder to re-home.
Recently, an eight year-old tabby named Colonel had returned to the cattery after it did not work out with his new owners.
Mrs Berwick explained: “I think it was a busy environment for him and a big family, he became very aggressive towards them.”
Sussex North Branch will never put an animal in need down, but the RSPCA admits that it is a necessary procedure if a suitable home is not found.
RSPCA Senior South East Regional Press Officer, Klaire Kennett, said: “We would only put animals to sleep as a very last resort if every effort had been made to find them a home and if health or behavioural issues meant we were unable to re-home them.”
Meanwhile, the RSPCA is appealing for people to start offering up their time and money to support local RSPCA charities.
Mr Grant said: “We really need our country’s animal lovers to step forward and open their hearts, homes and purses in these difficult times.”
If you would like to adopt a cat from Sussex North Branch, call Pat Berwick on 01403 267204, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rspca-sussexnorth.org.uk.