A WORCESTERSHIRE animal charity says it is bursting at the seams after a spate of pet abandonments during the colder weather.
It has been a bleak midwinter for the RSPCA Worcester and Mid-Worcestershire Branch, which has been inundated with calls from people across its patch who have found abandoned animals.
Margaret Layland, small animals rehoming co-ordinator, said she dreaded answering the phone after a significant increase in the number of rabbits and guinea pigs being left to fend for themselves.
Currently, volunteer foster carers are looking after 29 rabbits, 12 guinea pigs, two rats and a budgie, with a further five rabbits and three guinea pigs on the list to be brought in when hutches become available.
Despite efforts to try and relocate their owners, so far nobody has come forward to claim them and the charity, which is separate from the national RSPCA, is now looking for homes for the animals.
Mrs Layland, of St John’s, Worcester, said: “It is a bit of a nightmare at the moment but we are so grateful to our volunteers who have been looking after all of the animals.
“We can never be sure why people abandon their pets but it could be because they wanted them in summer when it is nice to be outside and feeding them, but in winter when it is wet and cold and dark, it is a different story.
"We would encourage people thinking about getting a pet to think differently and remember that it is lovely to go out in the sun and look after them, but when the weather changes, you still have to be prepared to go out and care for them.
“The weather is also causing difficulties with rehoming them because it’s so cold and people aren’t thinking about getting them.
"For the last two years we have seen an increase in the number of rabbits and guinea pigs dumped during bad weather.
“Domesticated animals aren’t used to surviving on their own. They are used to having their food in front of them and to have shelter.
“If people are struggling with their pets and need some advice we are always happy to talk to them.”
The number of dumped animals included eight guinea pigs left dumped on a driveway of a home in Alvechurch, near Redditch, on Thursday, January 2.
Although seven of the guinea pigs were healthy, one was found to have polycystic ovaries and will need an operation which will be paid for by the branch.
The increase in abandoned animals is stretching the charity’s coffers as they need to feed and care for the unwanted pets as well as replace worn-out hutches.
Mrs Layland said: “We are always grateful for donations of money or food.
"We never put any healthy animals down, they stay with us as long as it takes to find a new home for them.”
Anyone who could rehome an animal, needs advice or would like to donate money or food should call Margaret Layland on 01905 421849.
To donate to the charity visit uk.virginmoneygivin.com/charities/rspca-worcester.