Two thirds of UK rescue centres see a rise in abandoned dogs

01 November 2014

The research, conducted by dog adoption site and The Co-operative Insurance, highlights the common causes of dog abandonment and the pressures now faced by animal rescue homes.

Highlighting the extent of the problem, almost a fifth (17%) of the rescue centres reporting an increase in the number of abandoned dogs over the past year say that the number of animals taken in by them for this reason has doubled.

Also concerning, is that almost three quarters (72%) of animal rescues which have seen an increase in abandonment say that the number of dogs coming to them as a direct result of owner negligence has risen since 2013. A third (33%) state that they had taken the same number of dogs in as they did last year and none of the centres reported seeing an improvement.

Speaking of the findings, Andrew Nevitt, Pet Insurance Product Manager at The Co-operative Insurance said:

“We see time and time again from our customers that dogs truly are man’s best friend and for any animal lover, figures like these are hard to understand. However the sad fact remains that many people fail to fully appreciate the financial and emotional commitment required before they take on the responsibility of a pet.”

“With research revealing that dog ownership costs on average £992.5 year***, we’d encourage all prospective pet owners to act responsibly and ensure that this is a commitment they can afford. Once the basics such as food, treats and training are covered, Pet Insurance can help to keep unexpected costs such as vets bills in check.”

According to further findings from the research, over half (56%) of UK rescue centres believe that the main reasons for dog abandonment is due to a lack of education about dog ownership. Other prevalent reasons include a reluctance of owners to work through their dogs problems (50%) such as training issues once their dog comes home and dogs being abandoned due to owners being unable to manage the costs of keeping them (11%).

 Other common reasons for dogs being taken in by rescue centres include:

  • Lack of nourishment – is to blame for almost one third (29%) of dogs being taken in.
  • Failure to treat pets’ health problems is another cause for concern for almost one third (29%) of rescue centres.
  • Abuse - over one tenth of rescue centres (12%) stated that dogs end up in their care following reports of abuse.

Ryan O'Meara, co-founder of the adoption site said:

“The statistics we uncovered in our latest research show worrying trends. The continual rise of dogs being abandoned is, sadly, something we and the hundreds of rescues across the country have gotten used to. But the rising trends of dogs coming into rescue after being mistreated is something we shouldn't get used to.”

“We hope we can not only debunk the myths about dogs in rescues being damaged goods, but help to educate new and would be dog owners on the responsibilities of bringing a dog into the family.”

The Co-operative Insurance is sponsoring Dog Adoption website for the second year running. Since the partnership launched in 2013, the sponsorship has supported the re-homing of over 6,700 dogs saving the animal welfare industry £9.25million**.


Notes to Editors

The research, conducted amongst 401 rescue centres by dog adoption site and The Co-operative Insurance

* The term abandonment refers to animals that are left alone or abandoned in circumstances which might cause them harm
** Based on the average costs involved in caring for dogs in rescue centres at £1,380 per dog.
*** Research amongst 2000 pet owners conducted by One Poll on behalf of the Co-operative Insurance and in August 2014


About The Co-operative Group

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest co-operative business, whose purpose is “Championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities.” Owned by over eight million members, The Co-operative Group operates a total of 4,500 outlets, with around 87,000 employees and has an annual turnover of £11 billion with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services.
Co-operative Insurance offers business, home, motor and pet insurance products.


About launched in January 2007 as a platform to rescues of all sizes to publicise the dogs in their care looking for new homes.
Since launching, the site has helped over 29,000 dogs to find new homes and works with 400+ rescue centres across the UK helping raise awareness for dogs in their care searching for a family to call their own.


For further information please contact:

Lauren Hoult
The Co-operative Insurance
Tel: 0161 767 4256 / 07702 505 626