More than three million pets given up for adoption during pandemic, study finds

71 per cent of those given up for adoption belonged to people under the age of 35

<p>Dogs were most commonly given up for adoption</p>

Dogs were most commonly given up for adoption

More than three million households have given up a pet in the last year, according to new figures from the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA).

The association’s annual report finds that while 4.7 million households acquired a new pet during the pandemic, an estimated 3.4 million have given one up since 2021.

Gen Z (those aged between 16 and 24) and millennials (aged between 25 and 34) made up 53 per cent of new pet owners during the pandemic, but they were also most likely to give them up.

More than one fifth (23 per cent) of people in these age groups have been unable to keep a pet, with 71 per cent of all pets given up for adoption belonging to young people.

The most common pets to be given up are dogs (60 per cent) and cats (45 per cent).

Nicole Paley, deputy CEO of PFMA said the numbers are concerning. “We are keen to investigate why owners are giving up their pets and where they are being relinquished,” Paley said.

“We believe that many pets are being sold on to recuperate funds, in addition to being taken to rehoming centres.

“We are working closely with the Canine and Feline Sector Group plus other animal welfare charities to identify what the pet care sector can do to support owners and prevent this from happening.”

The main reason 16–24-year-olds gave up a pet was a change in their living arrangements, with 34 per cent citing this factor.

Just over a fifth (23 per cent) couldn’t keep their pet due to financial difficulties, while 22 per cent cited a change in work arrangements.

Some young pet owners also worried about behaviour, with 13 per cent relinquishing a pet for this reason.

In millennials, working (41 per cent) and living arrangements (39 per cent) were the most common reasons they gave up their pets.

Last month, the National Dog Survey, carried out by Dogs Trust, revealed that 23 per cent of dogs currently owned in the UK were acquired during the pandemic.

Dr Samantha Graines, a pet welfare expert at RSPCA said the relinquishment statistics are “very worrying but not surprising”.

She said the RSPCA has started to see an increase in requests for help and rehoming, but mostly in rabbits.

“Bringing an animal home to join your family is a significant commitment and responsibility and the increase in ownership during the pandemic did cause concerns that some people may not have fully considered whether they would be able to properly care for them for the rest of their life,” Graines said.

The charity is concerned that as people return to normal life after the pandemic, coupled with the rising cost of living, it could see the start of a “pet welfare crisis”.

“We understand that circumstances can change and, sometimes, this leaves families having to make the heart-breaking decision to give up their pets,” Graines said.

“However, we also know that animals are often signed over to charities, rehomed or even abandoned because people took on a pet without the necessary research or appreciation of the responsibility and commitment.”

The PFMA’s findings, based on a survey of almost 9,000 households across the UK, show that pet ownership overall is on the rise.

As of 2022, there are a record 35 million pets across the UK, with 17.4 million households owning at least one.

The most popular choices are dogs (13 million), followed by cats (12 million) and indoor birds £1.6 million).

Other common choices are hamsters, rabbits, Guinea pigs, pigeons and horses.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in