Rising amount of animals being abandoned in Portsmouth area
We take them into our homes, raise therm and cherish them, loving them for their quirks and for putting a smile on our faces.
So why are we now leaving them to die out on the streets?
Hundreds of animals across Hampshire are expected to be abandoned by their owners over the summer, according to the RSPCA.
The charity has predicted that the number of calls about abandoned animals will rise by about 50 per cent this summer, after receiving more than 10,000 calls across the country in just three months last summer.
A total of 209 of those calls came from Hampshire, making it the worst county in the south west for abandoning animals.
Summer is the busiest season for the RSPCA, as it urges struggling owners in the region not to simply dump their pets - which can range from kittens abandoned alone and sick to horses abandoned at the side of the road, tragically on the verge of death.
The RSPCA's superintendent for the south west region, Lee Hopgood, said: '˜We see every type of animal abandoned Â from dogs, cats and small animals to horses, farm animals and even exotic animals like pythons just left out on the street in their vivariums.
'˜Every animal has specific welfare needs and it's so dangerous to leave any animal abandoned and having to fend for itself.
'˜There's no saying why people choose to abandon their animals, or why this rises in the summer - possibly people dump their animals when they head off on holiday and haven't found anyone to look after their pet when they're away.
'˜Or maybe they feel less guilty, leaving a pet to fend for itself in the warmer weather, compared to the cold winter months.
'˜We can only guess that it can be a number of factors - for examples when people's circumstances change and they are no longer be in a position to look after their pet.
'˜However, we sadly see a number of abandoned animals with very serious injuries or illness, which is just heartbreaking.'
Many of those helping to support the hundreds of abandoned animals are volunteers, looking after these animals in their own time.
One of those volunteers is Vanessa Taylor from South Coast Rabbit Rescue.
She said: '˜Over the summer it's a real mix of children and finances that causes the problem.
'˜During the holidays people just don't want to know anymore. They would rather abandon their pets than commit that time - but I still don't know why people do that.
'˜I don't get the mentality - people need to be asking for help rather than letting the problems just get worse.'
Kate Stapleford from Gosport Cats Protection also volunteers her time to help abandoned pets.
As well as reuniting lost cats with their owners, Cats Protection also takes in a number of abandoned felines during the year - with Kate saying that the summer is usually the busiest time of the year.
She said: '˜We do tend to see a rise in the number of abandoned cats during the summer - and it can genuinely be quite a struggle to look after all of them.
'˜These poor cats are in desperate need of help, and we have to prioritise which ones we can support at any given time.'
Kate says that it can take months for these cats to come back out of their shells, having been left traumatised by the experience of being abandoned.
She said: '˜The response from these cats depends on how long they have been out and abandoned for.
'˜Most of the time they are naturally wary of new people because they have found themselves out of a home and forced to try and find refuge elsewhere.
'˜It's a very traumatic experience for them.'
Lee Hopgood from the RSPCA has stressed that simply abandoning animals to die out on the streets should never be considered as an option.
He said: '˜Abandoning pets should never be seen as a solution to a problem, and we are urging pet owners to take responsibility for their animals.
'˜When people take on a new pets - whatever that animal may be they do need to research it, make sure it will suit their lifestyle and that they will be able to provide for it for the entirety of its life - however long that may be.'