Massive increase in strays as economic pain continues

Hundreds of animal lovers and their pets joined a family fun day on Sunday, while a charity at the event warned animal abandonment has increased dramatically this year.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes took part in the show at King George V Playing Fields in Stevenage to raise money for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and the Pheonix Group for deaf children.

Organised by Stevenage Dog Watch – the dog walker’s neighbourhood watch scheme – the event raised around �400, while another will be held at Town Centre Gardens September 25 to raise even more.

Watch co-ordinator, Sarah Sheldrick said despite the weather it was a great success with 16 show classes, dog agility and raffle, as well as judging by Chas Hodges of Chas and Dave and town MP Stephen McPartland.

Staff from Kimpton Blue Cross, who were at the event with their animal check-up ambulance, warned this week that there has been an alarming rise in strays this year.

The charity reported a 45 per cent increase in the number of abandoned dogs nationwide, while cat abandonment is up 51 per cent and stray rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals increased 78 per cent. The Kimpton centre has taken in 112 stray animals so far this year including 69 dogs and 39 cats.

Mandy Jones, head of Blue Cross re-homing, blamed the faltering economy for the increase.

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“We are concerned that this steep rise may indicate that financial problems are continuing to have a profound effect on animal welfare. We are urging anyone struggling to cope to always contact an animal charity. We are here to help and owners should never abandon a pet to fend for itself.”

The centre, which also provides a subsidised micro-chipping service, can be contacted on 01438 832 232.

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