An animal welfare charity has said its centres across Scotland have hit capacity as a result of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scottish SPCA says it has recorded an increase in the number of calls to its helpline about unwanted animals, with more than 136,000 calls received in 2020.
Its frontline team attended an average 214 incidents each day – nearly 78,000 across the year – with 3,369 animals rehomed and more than 7,000 others admitted to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre.
A rise in demand for puppies has also led to an increase in the number of raids and seizures of dogs from low-welfare puppy farms and dealers.
Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “In many cases, neglect is not deliberate. Even people who love their animals can find themselves in a position where they are unable to continue to provide them with the care they need.
“This could be a change in personal circumstance or an accident. The decision can be heartbreaking but ultimately it is the right one for the welfare of that animal. It is admirable to put an animal’s needs first.
“Our centres have hit capacity and we desperately need the support of the animal loving Scottish public so that they don’t let animals suffer.
“We will continue to be here for every person and animal that need us in all communities across Scotland.
“Every single person who signs up to support us with a monthly donation will be making an impact and will allow us to rescue animals.”
Eileen Silver and her family were looking for a companion for Malcolm, a pony who was soon to be arriving in their care.
They eventually took in three Shetland ponies – named Mouse, Maisie and Honey – who were signed over to the Scottish SPCA last March after their previous owner could no longer care for them.
Ms Silver said: “We contacted the Scottish SPCA and they told us about the three Shetlands. We knew we couldn’t separate them so we took them all.
“They all settled in straight away. They even have their own little stables with their names on the doors.
“They arrived with us very well handled, we believe this is down to the hard work before they came to us.
“It’s been a very straight forward process. Mouse, Maisie and Honey just needed the right care and environment and we are so happy to be able to provide that for them.”