A RISING number of pets are being dumped after their owners end a relationship, according to new figures.
Wearside rescue and rehoming group Pawz for Thought has been inundated with animals abandoned after break-ups, reflecting a national trend.
Research by charity Blue Cross shows the number of animals given to rescue centres because of a split has risen by about 44 per cent in the past six years.
It raises concerns that pets, most commonly cats, dogs and rabbits, are becoming the “forgotten victims” after couples decide to go their separate ways.
Lynne Ebdale, from Pawz for Thought, said: “We would agree totally with the Blue Cross survey. The amount of calls we are getting relating to relationship break-ups and new partner issues and pets has increased at an alarming rate.
“We would beg people not to commit to an animal of any kind until they are sure they are in a fixed, stable relationship.”
As with children and other family members, arguments and bust-ups can leave pets suffering from anxiety, stress and behavioural problems.
“When a relationship fails, invariably the two partners have to find alternative accommodation and the amount of landlords that are not allowing animals into their property is very high,” said Ms Ebdale.
“It would not be such a bad situation if we were given time to sort out placements and new homes for these animals, but we are often given no time or very little time to work with.”
Experts say that animals showing signs of anxiety may become withdrawn, clingy or aggressive, as well as lose their appetite.
Julie Bedford, head of behaviour at Blue Cross, which runs a fostering scheme across County Durham, said: “Dogs and cats in particular are incredibly sensitive to the dynamics of family life and if a break-up is volatile it can leave them confused, scared and anxious.”
For more information about Pawz for Thought, visit www.pawzforthought.org or call 549 1982.