RSPCA appeal: Centre in Leicester is looking for homes for unwanted pets
Some were locked in empty homes while others were dumped in boxes and left to die – and now they need your help to find loving homes in the new year.
Staff at the Woodside Animal Centre, the RSPCA's Leicester branch, looked after about 250 unwanted pets over Christmas.
Among them was a giant rabbit they have named Santa, which was discovered in a sealed recycling box in Bradgate Park.
It was packed in with seven other rabbits and guinea pigs.
Centre supervisor Carrie Stoker said: "They were just left to die and it is lucky that someone came across the box and looked inside because I don't think they would have lasted long in December's freezing weather.
"Santa was with his wife – Mrs Claus – and four baby rabbits and two guinea pigs.
"He is enormous, so you can imagine how tightly packed in they were.
"We see a lot of cases of abandoned animals, but this was particularly shocking because of the number in such a little box and the cold they were left in.
"I think they probably only survived because they huddled for warmth."
Staff at Woodside are appealing to animal-lovers to think about rehoming one of the many abandoned pets they are caring for.
They include Sabrina, a black cat whose owners moved house in October, leaving her behind to starve.
"She was left without food but was thankfully seen and grabbed by one of our officers," said Carrie.
"She is a lovely girl – so friendly and she really enjoys cuddles.
"She was a bit nervous of people at first, but after a little stay in a foster home, her confidence is back and she is ready to go to a lovely new home. Somewhere she will get plenty of love and attention."
Staff at the centre in Braunstone Frith are caring for 200 cats, 60 dogs, 30 rabbits, 10 ferrets and dozens of rodents and birds.
Clause, a budgie, was taken to the centre six weeks ago because he was being bullied by other birds at his home.
They pecked his feet, causing them to become deformed. But he is now doing well and is ready for a new home.
Woodside assistant manager Jade Burton said: "He's coming on so well with his disability and while he sometimes misses the perch, he can fly and get around fine."
Staff at Woodside are looking for homes for Santa, Sabrina and Clause – and other abandoned pets – before the centre is inundated with unwanted pets given as Christmas gifts.
Jade said: "People take animals as gifts and then when it comes to going back to work they don't want them any more. It's so sad."