Cases of pets being dumped by their owners have soared across the West Midlands in the cost-of-living crisis, the RSPCA said. The charity said it was on course to receive 1,351 reports of animal abandonment in the region this year - a rise of more than 53 per cent on the 2020 figure.

They included three young kittens found abandoned beside a road in a plastic bag in Birmingham in May. The bag had the words ‘Platform 9 and ¾’ across the front and back, a reference to the Harry Potter books.

The young black and white cats, who were just a few weeks old, were named Harry, Ron and Hermione after the franchise's main characters and taken into the care of the team at RSPCA Coventry and District branch.

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Nationally, the charity has received 17,838 reports of abandoned animals across England and Wales this year - which would equate to 21,417 reports over 2023 if the trend continue. That compared with 16,118 reports during the whole of 2020, meaning the RSPCA was on course to see a 32.9 per cent rise in abandonment calls this year.

Dermot Murphy, who heads the RSPCA frontline rescue teams, said the combined effects of the pandemic and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis had created a perfect storm. He said: "Abandonment calls to our emergency line are now at a three-year high, as we respond to an increasing number of animals being given up and dumped.

“Behind these shocking statistics are thousands of vulnerable animals. Each one is a valuable life in urgent need of our help."

"We’re desperately concerned about the coming winter months in the West Midlands - abandonments have soared and many rescue centres are full to bursting, so we are facing an unprecedented winter crisis. Our rescue teams are set to be busier than ever this Christmas - so we need animal lovers to join the Christmas rescue and donate to help us be there for animals in desperate need as neglect and abandonment soars.”