A leading animal welfare charity has condemned Westcountry pet owners for neglecting their dogs, cats and rabbits.
The PDSA, which provides free veterinary care for the pets of people who cannot afford to pay for it, says there is a widespread misunderstanding of the needs of animals.
And in the South West, where the charity carried out a survey of pet care, researchers discovered little more than a third of owners were familiar with the basic welfare needs of the animals which depend upon them.
The report warns: “Nationally, awareness of the Animal Act is at an all-time low, with a shocking 8.3 million pet owning households not familiar with the five basic things that pets need to be healthy and happy.
“In the South West, only 37% of owners are familiar with those basic needs. Pets in the region are missing out on basic health care with 27% not receiving annual life-saving vaccinations.
“Almost a third of pets in the region aren’t microchipped and 59% aren’t insured.”
The five welfare needs that the PDSA says are being neglected are: a suitable place for a pet to live; the right diet; the ability to display normal behaviour; appropriate companionship; and protection from pain, suffering and disease.