A dog with a slashed neck was among five animals found abandoned near a park.
Only four of the pooches could be saved and another – a small terrier – was unable to be captured, with people now urged to keep an eye out.
The RSPCA say they are worried this winter could see a welfare crisis for pets, with a rise in abandonments as new owners struggle to care for animals that they purchased during the pandemic.
The RSPCA is urging the public to Join the Rescue and assist them in helping animals in need this winter.
Inspector Helen Smith, who is now carrying out a probe into the incident and appealing for help in finding the fifth dog, said: “Locals were concerned that the dogs were all wandering loose and described them as looking bewildered.
“They managed to catch four of the dogs and took them to a local vet.
“Unfortunately, a fifth dog – a small white terrier type – could not be captured. We’d urge local people to keep an eye out for the little dog and to contact the dog warden or the RSPCA if they find him.”
She said the injured dog, a five-year-old female black and white border collie, was in a “very poor” condition and had a nasty injury to her neck.
She said: “The poor girl has a deep, sore wound around her neck which appears to have been caused by a tight collar or a rope which has become embedded in her neck. She’s now having the wound treated.”
The other dogs – a tan and white female beagle, a short-haired tan-coloured male terrier with a docked tail, and a black and white poodle cross type – are all now in RSPCA care.
Although the dogs are microchipped, they are not registered with databases. Helen said: “The microchips haven’t been traceable so they’re either out-of-date or are foreign chips that are registered overseas.”
The RSPCA has seen abandonment levels rising and fears this festive season will be even more devastating for animals as pet ownership has soared which could lead to even more now-unwanted pets being left out in the cold, left to fend for themselves while owners travel to visit family over the four day holiday, or neglected due to stretched family budgets.
With 3,004 abandonment incidents in England and Wales last winter – 1,018 of those during the month of December alone – the charity fears that rising abandonment rates will see more animals facing a bleak winter.
During recent months abandonment’s have risen by around 20 per cent this year compared to 2020 figures and the charity is worried that soaring pet ownership during the pandemic could mean a surge of abandoned dogs and cats as people return to normal working life.
Helen added: “These four dogs were abandoned alone in the cold and dark, one with a serious injury that needed urgent veterinary treatment.
“I fear that this could be the beginning of the welfare crisis that we’ve been predicting after pet acquisition surged so dramatically during the pandemic.
“These four dogs will be warm, dry, well-fed and well cared for now.
“But providing care for dogs in need like this costs money. And with thousands of animals in our care, and many more needing us this winter, we’re urging the public to Join the Christmas Rescue and help us help them over the coming months.”
Anyone with information about the fifth dog, information about where these dogs have come from or who is responsible for abandoning them should contact the RSPCA’s appeal line on 0300 123 8018.
To Join the Christmas Rescue and help our rescuers be there for the animals in need this winter, visit www.rspca.org.uk/rescuexmas.
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