Animal charities in Bury have reported soaring demand and plummeting donations amid the ongoing effects of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

Charities in the borough say the “two-fold” effect of the pandemic and the higher cost of living has led to a dramatic increase in referrals while donations and adoption requests have fallen.

They say the coronavirus lockdowns led some to adopt animals that they are now unable to care for but soaring living costs have meant fewer people are able to adopt.

Manager of Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary in Ramsbottom, Karen Weed, says the charity has seen “about a 50 per cent drop in donations”.

She said: “The cost of living has had such an impact on everybody, but obviously, we rely on public donations, so it’s very difficult.

“Admissions have shot right up and rehoming has gone really quiet.”

She added that many of the animals currently being referred to Bleakholt are large dogs, some of which have behavioural problems, making them harder to rehome.

Karen said: “I think a lot of it was lockdown dogs, they’re not very well socialised and they’re not used to being left and it just adds up to more behavioural problems.

“We’ve certainly seen more dogs that need some help before they can be rehomed.”

Karen says waiting times even for desirable animals have in some cases soared from 10-days to three or four weeks.

She added: “The cost of living has had a huge impact because bills are going up, people can’t afford their bills and lots of people are probably realising its not the best time to adopt an animal, so it’s having a knock-on effect on both admissions and rehoming.”

“We were kind of predicting that numbers would go up after covid, what we didn’t expect was the rapid cost of living increase, so it’s been two-fold.”

Chantelle Farrow, a volunteer with Bury Kitty Rescue, based in Radcliffe, says the increased number of abandoned cats has made it harder to find new homes for the animals.

She said: “We’re a small team, it’s always been hard but since, I’d say, about January last year, it’s just gone crazy.”

“At the minute, because (the rescues) are so full with the amount of cats coming in it is so hard to find a rescue.

"Likewise, the charity has seen fewer donations and a dramatic increase in referrals.

“In 2019 we’d have, say 20 people getting in touch wanting to rehome a cat and we’d have, say 20 cats on the street waiting to come in, last week we had 116 cats waiting to come in.”

“It’s a big difference in the number of people who donate food, a lot of people prefer to donate items like that than they do money.

“There’s a massive drop and that’s kind of what we use to survive.”