The RSPCA is appealing for information after a cockerel was found dumped in a box in a front garden in Surrey.
The chicken was discovered by a member of the public inside a cardboard box and abandoned on their doorstep on the evening of Saturday 18 March in Bagshot Green, Bagshot.
The finder gave the bird some food and water and contacted the RSPCA for help.
Rescuers took the cockerel to the vets for a check-up where they found no welfare concerns. He was then taken into the care of a specialist boarding facility for some much-needed TLC.
RSPCA inspector Leanna Hone, who collected the bird, said: “This poor cockerel had been dumped like rubbish and put on someone’s doorstep to find, which was quite a shock for the person who lived there. Thankfully, they were able to give the bird some food and water and contacted us and we took the bird to a safe place.
“He didn’t have any injuries and was in relatively good condition albeit probably a little scared after his ordeal. He’s doing well now and we will look to rehome him soon.
“Anyone with information is urged to contact the RSPCA’s inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”Sadly, RSPCA officers are regularly called to incidents about dumped poultry – with cost of living concerns, and people not wanting males who are unable to lay eggs, cited as reasons for the concerning number of cockerel abandonments.
Leanna added: “Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for cockerels or hens to be abandoned.
“We sometimes see increased demand for pet laying hens and we may be seeing this trend again, possibly in response to the egg shortages in supermarkets like we have been seeing recently, but once eggs are back on shelves then these hens become ‘surplus to requirement’. There are also concerns that some families may have taken on unsexed chicks, which have grown into noisy cockerels who obviously cannot provide eggs, and so they are now being abandoned.
“We would always urge anyone who is considering taking on any pet to ensure that they have the time, money and resources to care for that animal for the rest of their lives. We’ve launched a cost of living hub for anyone struggling. Chickens have specific behavioural and environmental requirements and keeping them should not be a decision that is taken lightly.”
So far this year (up to 23 March) the RSPCA has received 256 reports of abandoned chickens and has sadly seen a year on year increase with 1,704 (2020), 1,806 (2021) and 2,017 abandoned chickens reported to the charity last year (2022).
Kate Norman, hen welfare expert at the RSPCA, said: “We are concerned that this increase could be due to bird flu fears as the UK has faced one of the worst outbreaks of Avian Influenza (AI) over the past year. It’s really important that owners follow Government biosecurity advice to help protect the health of their birds as well as to try and limit the spread of the virus.
“All pet poultry owners need to keep their birds housed indoors due to current housing restrictions, and they should stay vigilant for signs of disease and ill health in their flocks. It’s vital they seek veterinary advice if they have any concerns for their birds.
“We’re concerned that worries about bird flu and changes to how we’re allowed to keep hens may lead to more owners abandoning their pets, putting more pressure on rescue centres.”
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit its website or call the donation line on 0300 123 8181.
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