THE RSPCA has received more than 1,600 reports of abandoned animals across England and Wales since lockdown began, 18 of which were in Cumbria.

The charity released figures as part of its emergency appeal, launched to keep its rescue teams out continuing to rescue animals most in need during the coronavirus crisis.

Across the county, there have been reports of 18 abandoned animals to the charity’s cruelty hotline since March 23.

Animal rescuers at the charity are key workers as per the government guidelines but vital funding is needed to help the RSPCA’s frontline staff continue this crucial work.

Since the country went into lockdown the RSPCA has had 1,663 incidents of abandonment reported, which is an average of 40 incidents a day.

Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA rescue teams, said: “Although much of the country is on lockdown, sadly there are still thousands of animals who need our help, including abandoned pets.

Many people are finding their pets are a real source of comfort in these anxious times and thankfully cases of abandonment are slightly lower than usual but it’s heartbreaking that some animals are being dumped during this crisis.

“In most cases we don’t know why pets are abandoned but it’s really important to remind people that there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 can be passed from pets to people. There is lots of help and support out there for anyone else struggling to get animal food, with health or behavioural issues, exercising their pets or managing to keep children safe around pets. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Since the government lockdown was introduced, the charity has responded to more than 27,000 incidents, with 1,600 incidents of abandoned animals reported. The number of animals being cared for by the RSPCA at centres, hospitals and vet surgeries has also grown by hundreds.

Since lockdown began:

n RSPCA rescuers have dealt with 27,507 incidents of animal cruelty, neglect and suffering animals which need help

n The charity has received more than 92,800 calls from members of the public

n There are more than 4,300 animals in RSPCA care

For anyone worried about caring for a pet during the crisis there's advice on the RSPCA website.