RSPCA’s Battle Against Surging Animal Abandonments in Surrey

As winter approaches, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) sounds the alarm bells, anticipating an unprecedented crisis in Surrey. Startling figures reveal a 27.4% increase in animal abandonments compared to the previous year, marking 2023 as a challenging period for the organization. This surge, coupled with tales of abandoned creatures like a bearded dragon and two tortoises found in a cardboard box in Horsham, West Sussex, paints a grim picture. Dermot Murphy, leader of the RSPCA’s frontline rescue teams, attributes this surge to the compounding effects of the pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The Perfect Storm: Pandemic, Cost of Living, and Abandonments

Murphy underscores the challenges faced by the RSPCA, citing the combined impact of the pandemic and the escalating cost of living as the catalyst for the surge in abandonments. As living expenses soar, individuals find themselves unable to meet the needs of their animal companions, resulting in heart-wrenching cases of abandonment. Murphy expresses deep concern about the imminent winter months, fearing that the RSPCA may confront an unprecedented crisis, with rescue centers stretched to their limits.

Disturbing Trends in Surrey

The statistics tell a sobering tale. In Surrey alone, the RSPCA responded to 228 reports of animal abandonment this year, marking a significant uptick from the previous year. This surge is not limited to Surrey, as the charity has been inundated with 17,838 cases of animal abandonment across England and Wales in 2023, surpassing the totals for both 2020 and 2021. With the year not yet concluded, projections hint at an even higher figure than the 2022 total of 19,645 reports.

Tales of Resilience: Tortoises’ Journey from Abandonment to Rehoming

Highlighting the dire situation, the RSPCA shares a heartening story of resilience. In January, the organization discovered two tortoises abandoned in a cardboard box in Horsham. Despite being Mediterranean in origin and requiring specific temperature conditions, the tortoises were found in good health. Swift action by the RSPCA led to their relocation to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Grays, exemplifying the tireless efforts to mitigate the consequences of abandonment.

The RSPCA’s Plea and Proactive Measures

In the face of this escalating crisis, the RSPCA issues a plea for support. With rescue centers at full capacity, the organization emphasizes the importance of responsible pet ownership and urges individuals to consider the long-term commitment of caring for an animal. To address the immediate challenges, the RSPCA is actively seeking foster homes and encouraging adoptions to alleviate the strain on their facilities.


As winter approaches, the RSPCA stands at the frontline of an extraordinary challenge. The surge in animal abandonments, fueled by economic uncertainties and the lingering impact of the pandemic, requires a collective response. Beyond the statistics, there are stories of resilience, like the tortoises in Horsham, that embody the hope and determination of the RSPCA. As we navigate the coming months, let us be mindful of the responsibility we bear towards our animal companions, working together to ensure a compassionate and supportive community for all creatures, great and small.

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