THE RSPCA is bracing itself for a surge in abandoned animals in Dorset and across the UK following the outbreak of coronavirus.

Typically, the charity sees abandonment peak in the summer months, in which charity received 202 reports about dumped animals in Dorset last year.

This included two rabbits abandoned inside a pet carrier on a residential street in Ferndown, June 2019.

The male and female English Spot rabbits were taken to RSPCA Ashley Heath Animal Rescue Centre by a member of the public who discovered them.

The RSPCA is braced for an even bigger impact this summer following the easing of lockdown and the financial impact on the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result, the charity has launched an emergency appeal to continue its vital rescue work.

During the three months since lockdown began, the RSPCA has received reports about 3,492 abandoned animals - about 40 calls a day - including 1,509 dogs, 1,165 cats, 299 small furries such as hamsters, guinea pigs and ferrets and 275 exotic pets.

Head of the RSPCA’s animal rescue teams, Dermot Murphy said: "During lockdown we’ve seen pets become a source of comfort and support for people and it appears many people have taken on new animals. Fortunately during this time we’ve dealt with fewer abandoned pets however we are worried that as lockdown eases, people return to work, go on holidays or struggle financially we will be facing a massive surge of animal abandonment."

The numbers of animals being cared for by the RSPCA has risen by more than 1,500 to 5,600 during the pandemic.

Dermot added: "This is the toughest year yet for the RSPCA despite the huge challenges, our amazing teams have been continuing to rescue animals throughout this crisis.

"I’d urge anyone struggling with their pet to ask for help. Animals have been there to help us through the crisis, please don’t abandon them now."

To help the RSPCA continue to rescue animals that have been abandoned this summer, visit: