RSPCA Cymru is bracing itself for the toughest Christmas yet as the charity fears the financial strain from the Coronavirus pandemic could mean a rise in pets being abandoned and neglected.
Last Christmas Day, across England and Wales, the RSPCA received more than 950 calls, the highest number since 2013 and it received 63,000 calls throughout December, or 2,000 a day, making it the busiest Christmas period for at least four years.
In Wales, the charity dealt with 4,171 incidents across the winter period (Dec, Jan, Feb) and 1,410 in December alone.
Swansea (372), Cardiff (355) and Carmarthenshire (258) were the areas of Wales with the most incidents dealt with over the 2019 winter period, while Swansea (130), Cardiff (118) and Rhondda Cynon Taf (89) saw the most incidents over the 2019 Christmas period (Dec).
This year, faced with the financial strain of the Coronavirus crisis, the RSPCA is concerned that more people may struggle to care for their pets and could see a rise in them being abandoned or neglected, putting more pressure on the charity's rescue teams than ever before.
RSPCA officers are out on the frontline 365 days a year, including Christmas Day. Despite the pandemic, this year will be no exception with frontline teams saving animals and caring for them at our centres and hospitals across England and Wales - including at Newport and Upper Colwyn Bay; just as they have been doing throughout the crisis.
This year the RSPCA is asking supporters to 'Join the Christmas Rescue' by donating to help rescue teams reach the thousands of animals who desperately need them.
Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA's animal rescue teams, said:
"Christmas may be different for many people this year but for the RSPCA, our teams will be working day in, day out, as usual, rescuing, caring and rehabilitating those animals who need us the most. Last year, we rescued thousands of animals over the winter months and we fear that due to the pandemic, we could be facing our toughest Christmas yet as we are braced for a rise in abandoned and neglected animals needing our help."
Last winter, more than 7,000 animals were taken in by the RSPCA across England and Wales and the charity received more than 204,000 calls over the winter period.
Throughout December 2019, the charity dealt with more than 20,000 incidents and took 2,587 more animals into its care, including 558 dogs, 1,416 cats, 149 rabbits, and 167 wildlife.
"It's been a tough year for everyone, including charities, so now more than ever we need your help to continue our vital work saving animals and giving them a voice.
"Our frontline teams are out throughout the winter but they cannot do this alone, which is why the RSPCA has launched its Join the Christmas Rescue campaign to show how we can all help animals. From our animal rescuers, hospital and centre staff, and our volunteers to every supporter who picks up the phone to call us when an animal is in need, or donates to help us continue our work - every one of us is vital to make sure we can rescue the animals who need us the most."