THERE has been a spike in the number of pets being abandoned in parts of Oxford.

RSPCA animal collection officer Dennis Lovell said the charity had noticed the surge in animals being dumped in Headington, Wood Farm and Risinghurst in the past two weeks.

And the West Oxford Animal Rescue Centre said it too was also noticing more abandoned animals.

On February 14, three terrapins were found in a box in Atkins Road, Wood Farm, by police, who handed them to Evolution Reptiles. They were passed to the RSPCA.

Then, on Monday night, two rabbits found by dog walkers in Risinghurst recreation ground off Kiln Lane, were handed to Mr Lovell at his home.

On the same night three abandoned cats were found in a box in an underpass near the Green Road roundabout, Headington.

Mr Lovell said: “To find so many animals in such a small area in such a short space of time is unusual. Throughout the country we’re forever picking up animals that irresponsible owners have dumped.”

He labelled owners who failed to dispose of unwanted pets in the correct way as lazy.

He said: “People are treating these animals as throwaway items. It’s an offence to dump them like this which can lead to a fine of £5,000 and up to six months in prison. It’s very sad to see animals being dumped in this way. It’s a very lazy way of getting rid of unwanted animals. There are charities that can help, like the RSPCA, Blue Cross and Cats Protection League.”

He said the abandoned animals could have met horrible ends.

He said: “The rabbits, for example, could have become fox food if they had been left outside for long enough and the cats, if they had got out of the box, could have wandered on to a road and been killed.”

He said the terrapins had already been re-homed and he was looking after the rabbits and cats until homes were found.

Other animal charities have also called on pet owners to be responsible after witnessing a spike in the number of abandoned animals found.

Janet Butler, who runs West Oxford Animal Rescue Centre in Botley, said: “It’s getting terrible. Somebody put a rabbit in my hutch with another rabbit. We’re so desperate at the moment, it’s getting so bad.”

Anyone can report abandoned animals by calling the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.