Over half new pet owners say would have to give up pets within months if lost their job or face cuts to income

  • Thousands of pet owners registered for charity vet services to treat their pets since first lockdown
  • Pet charity Blue Cross launches new pet food banks to help owners in poverty or on low incomes
  • Less than one in four know they will always have financial resources for their pets

The surge in pet ownership during the pandemic as seen a huge rise in the need for charitable support. More than three million pets were taken on during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic and new research by Blue Cross reveals that more than two-thirds2 of new pet owners are not aware of the costs of raising a new pet, which can amount to £4.5-£13k for dogs and over £12k3 for cats. Sadly, over half4 admit they would be forced to give up their pet within just six months if they lost their job or faced a sudden loss of income. Less than one in four say they will always have the financial resources to meet the need of their pet5.

Pandemic Pets in Financial Crisis! #PetCareCostsInGoodShape

To keep people and their pets together wherever possible Blue Cross has added new services during the pandemic including pet food banks, a donation based animal behaviour line and increased chartity vet support to support pet owners with limited finances or low incomes.

The charity already offers reduced and free veterinary services in London and Grimsby for pet owners on means-tested benefits through it’s animal hospitals and since March 2020 there have been over 15,0006 new clients sign up for the service with new pets or because they have suffered a loss of income and need help with veterinary costs to be able to keep their pet.

The charity began its new, donation based, behaviour helpline in March 2020 to help new and existing pet owners needing help with their pets‘ behaviour and who could not afford to seek advice from a private animal behaviourist. The team have helped hundreds of owners, including some who were so desperate they were considering rehoming their pet or even having them put to sleep. Issues have involved aggression, guarding behaviours and separation anxiety.

Rachel Myers, Blue Cross Animal Behaviourist said: “With such drastic changes to our lifestyles during the lockdowns, we knew this would also have a huge impact on the lives of our pets. Families spending much more time at home meant pets were forced into a new routine and this led to several worrying trends in pet behaviour with some showing signs of aggression and even nipping their owners or guarding precious items. While we ask for a donation for our advice, sadly, more than half7 of callers to the helpline stated they simply couldn’t afford to give us a donation so we know there many owners really struggling to cope.“

Following consultation with other organisations and charities a need was identified for Blue Cross Rehoming, Advice and Behaviour unit (RABU) in Sheffield to offer free pet food through a food bank for owners in the community. The pet food bank in Sheffield has given out over 350 portions of dog food and more than 650 portions of cat food plus helped four rabbits since January 2021. In Manchester, a simlar need was also indentified to support low-income pet owners and over 100 cats and dogs plus two Guinea pigs have received food through the service since it began in February this year, with 160 litres of cat litter also provided.

Blue Cross has also launched a campaign urging pet owners across the nation to get their pet care costs into shape. The new campaign offers free support and guidance to those who need it, including tips on how to avoid expensive vet bills and even includes how-tos on DIY pet treats and toys. Visit www.bluecross.org.uk/petcosts to find out more. #PetCareCostsInGoodShape


Sources:

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Pandemic Pets in Financial Crisis! #PetCareCostsInGoodShape
  • 1 – PFMA statistics. https://www.pfma.org.uk/news/pfma-releases-latest-pet-population-data
  • 2 – Survey undertaken for Blue Cross by Censuswide with 2,000 dog and cat owners. 77% of pet owners who got their pet since the start of the pandemic were surprised by the true estimated cost of raising a pet.
  • 3 – PDSA Paw Report 2019, www.pdsa.org.uk/dogcost  and https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/kittens-cats/the-cost-of-owning-a-cat
  • 4 – Censuswide survey: 57% of pet owners who got their pet since the start of the pandemic know that, if they lost their job, it would be 6 months or less before they could no longer meet the needs of their pet.
  • 5 – 18% pet owners who got their pet since the start of the pandemic know that they will always have the financial resources to meet the needs of their pet.
  • 6 -15,799 owners have registered their pets to receive Blue Cross charitable clinical services since March 2020.
  • 7 – Between September 2020 and June 2021 there were 425 calls for behavioural support. 190 ( 44.7%) were able to give a donation.
  • Blue Cross was also on hand to support new pet owners by offering ‘Puppies in lockdown‘, a free series of vlogs to help new dog owners get all the help they needed to teach puppies everyday life situations and other pets and dogs while they were forced to stay at home and puppy training classes were closed.
  • Blue Cross is a national charity that has been helping sick, injured, abandoned and homeless pets for over 120 years. We help thousands of pets in need every month by providing veterinary care, expert behaviour help and find them loving homes. We also offer education for current and future pet owners plus pet bereavement support for those who have lost their pet companion. Pets help us in so many ways and they depend entirely on us, with your support we can give back to more pets in need. Pets change lives. We change theirs.
  • For more information visit bluecross.org.uk

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