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Last Updated: Monday January 12 2009 08:28 GMT

Ricky looks at rise in abandoned pets

A dog

We're always hearing how the cash crisis is affecting shops and businesses, but it seems that pets are being affected too.

Animal experts say they've seen a big increase in the number of dogs and cats being abandoned.

Newsround's Ricky went to an animal shelter to find out more about why people are giving up their pets.


Ricky with a dog
I went to visit the Wood Green Animal Shelter in Cambridge to find out why more people are getting rid of their pets.

The credit crunch and all the money problems across the UK hasn't just affected shops and businesses, it's stopped a lot of owners from having enough money to look after their pets.

Abandoned

Animal experts told me that they've seen a big rise in the number of dogs and cats being abandoned on the side of roads, because people cannot afford to care for them any more.

A dog
It's hard to imagine how someone could just get rid of their pet to try and save some cash, but that's exactly what thousands of people have done over the past few months.

Dennis Baker works at the Wood Green shelter. He told me that because lots of people have lost their jobs recently, they can no longer spend money on things like pet insurance and veterinary bills.

Moving home

He also said that some people are giving up their animals because they are moving into rented accommodation and you can't always have a pet if you rent a property.

A dog in the shelter
I went for a walk around the shelter and saw loads of dogs waiting to be re-homed.

Each dog had a piece of paper explaining why they had ended up in the shelter.

The majority of them had been handed in by previous owners who could no longer afford to care for them.

I also met Steph Harlock, who drives around Cambridge looking for stray pets that may have been dumped on an estate or a nearby neighbourhood.

Trap

She told me that it's been really busy over the past couple of months with more abandoned pets than ever before.

Steph
Steph Harlock with her van
Once someone has reported a stray animal, it's Steph's job to set up a food station near the sighting, which will trap the animal so they can take it back to the shelter and look after it properly.

Their advice is to hand in your pet to a shelter if you can no longer afford to look after it, instead of letting it run free and putting the animal's life in danger.

Ricky