Surge in unwanted animals as lockdown eases

Roger, a shy three-year-old lurcher who has been at Eau Brink since November 5 Picture: Chris Bisho

The number of dogs being taken in by the RSPCA in west Norfolk has surged since lockdown lifted - Credit: Chris Bishop

A West Norfolk RSPCA branch has seen a surge in the number of animals needing to be rehomed since lockdown measures eased.

There were fears some pets taken on while people were at home for long periods could be no longer be cared for or would be unwanted once their owners returned to work.

Carl Saunders, general manager at Eau Brink Rehoming Centre at Tilney All Saints, near King's Lynn, said: “We’re just starting to see a significant influx. Owners are going to struggle because they are not used to leaving the animals on their own and they don’t have the time to care for them."


Oscar the lurcher, who is one of the animals looking for a new home at Eau Brink - Credit: RSPCA

The number of dogs on the branch’s books has rocketed from five a couple of weeks ago to 16 including two German Shepherds less than a year old. They include Oscar, a two-year-old lurcher cross who was found with an injured leg which had to be amputated.

The oldest dog currently is seven years old but not long ago the branch managed to rehome a pair of 15-year-olds. There are also 18 cats and eight other smaller animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs looking for a new, loving home.


Oscar arrived at Eau Brink with a broken leg, which needed to be amputated - Credit: RSPCA

Mr Saunders said: “There’s separation anxiety where an animal has not been left on its own in some instances for months and now people are being brought back to work through furlough ending, hospitality opening up and so on.

“We’ve seen instances of a dog chewing plasterboard because they are so bored or destroying furniture. Owners feel they can’t cope and they don’t know what to do about it.”

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The number of animals at Eau Brink is up 250pc on the same period last year, although the branch saw a dip of 20pc during lockdown. It usually has about 30 animals, currently there are 42.

The RSPCA Centre at Eau Brink have eight young rabbits for rehoming. Picture: Ian Burt

Rabbits are among the animals which need rehoming at the RSPCA Centre at Eau Brink - Credit: Ian Burt

Eau Brink relies on its own fundraising and its two charity shops in Norfolk Street, Lynn, and Greevegate, Hunstanton, to cover its costs.

It’s been an independent RSPCA branch since 1962 and has been affiliated to the charity since the 1930s.

Mr Saunders said: “We’ve rehomed thousands of animals in that time. We pride ourselves in being good at matching the dog with the new proposed owner.

“We generally rehome about 500 animals per year and we might see two or three come back to us.”

The average cost of a dog up to eight years old is £200. Younger ones or more desirable breeds are about £250 and older ones £150.

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