THE RSPCA received 12 reports of animals being abandoned in Oxfordshire last month.

The charity released the figure yesterday as it urged people not to dump unwanted pets this winter.

It is particularly concerned after it ran a survey which found that one in ten pet owners had taken on a pet during lockdown and, of those, nine per cent said that their pet had been more expensive than they had expected.

Just over one in 20 were worried about being able to afford their pets in the future.

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The charity also revealed that it received more than 30 animal abandonment reports in Oxfordshire last winter, and received 985 such calls across the whole country last month.

Officers said they are now worried that a surge in pet ownership during the coronavirus lockdown could result in more unwanted animals this year.

Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams, said: “During the lockdown there have been reports of a rise in people buying or adopting new pets, often for the very first time.

"Whilst it’s great that so many people have become pet owners and have found their pet to be a real source of comfort during these challenging times, we are concerned that some people may have bought a pet on impulse without considering how their lifestyle might change once the pandemic ends.

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"On top of that, we are facing real economic uncertainties, and, as in previous recessions, people may simply find themselves unable to afford their pet.

“The last thing we want to see is animals dumped and left out in the cold so we’d urge anyone who is struggling to care for their pets to please reach out to friends, family and charities for support instead.”