Disturbing find in dumped shopping bag highlights consequence of cost of living crisis

Charities have become inundated with dog and cat surrenders as their owners struggle financially.

A heartbreaking find inside a discarded shopping bag highlights the far-reaching consequences of the cost-of-living crisis. Discovered on a grassy wasteland by a dog walker on Friday was the body of a tiny Jack Russell puppy that authorities described as “very skinny”.

An image of the bag was shared by the RSPCA which hopes to find those responsible. “Times are hard right now — but we'd always urge any animal owners grappling with costs to reach out for help,” it said in a statement.

Publicity surrounding the discovery of the dead puppy in South Yorkshire, United Kingdom confirms financial hardship is impacting pet owners internationally. Just three days later in Australia, the Western Australian RSPCA reported 346 pet owners asked to surrender their pets over the first three months of 2024 – a 44 per cent jump on the same time last year.

A Poundland bag sitting on a grassy wasteland. Houses can be seen in the background.
A female dog's body was found dumped inside a Poundland supermarket bag on wasteland in Mexborough, South Yorkshire. Source: RSPCA

Related: Aussie pet owner's desperate act amid cost of living crisis

Looking to the past 18 months, a third of surrenders occurred for one of three sad reasons:

  1. The owner couldn’t afford to feed or care for their animal

  2. They couldn’t find a pet-friendly rental

  3. They had become homeless

How cost of living is impacting Aussie pet owners

The charity’s Hannah Dreaver called the situation “disheartening but not surprising”. In a separate Jack Russell case in WA, a dog named Flossy was surrendered by a man three weeks ago because he had become homeless and couldn’t find a anywhere to stay that accepted his dog.

Flossy was surrendered after her owner became homeless and couldn't find anywhere that accepted a dog. Source: RSPCA WA
Flossy was surrendered after her owner became homeless and couldn't find anywhere that accepted a dog. Source: RSPCA WA

“As an older man, he had the choice between sleeping rough with 12-year-old Flossy and feeling unsafe for both of them, or having the chance at a bed for the night,” she said. “What a heartbreaking, awful position to be in. I really feel for (him) but I’m so glad he reached out and that we could give him some comfort knowing Flossy will be well cared for.”

RSPCA WA also reported 78 per cent of 1300 people who took part in its pet census said they’d noticed an increase in the price of pet food. That resulted in 20 per cent buying less expensive pet food and 34 per cent spending less on themselves.

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