AS the credit crunch bites, North Devon s pets are now feeling the pinch. Animal aid organisations in the region are reporting a huge rise in pets of all kinds losing their homes as owners can no longer afford to care for them. They are facing a double ed

AS the credit crunch bites, North Devon's pets are now feeling the pinch.Animal aid organisations in the region are reporting a huge rise in pets of all kinds losing their homes as owners can no longer afford to care for them.They are facing a double edged sword: care facilities now bursting at the seams as more and more animals come in and fewer people are offering new homes as they think hard about the cost of another pet.And this is all adding hugely to the costs of the charities themselves at a time when fund raising is also becoming more difficult.Stuart Ford of the Torrington-based Society for the Protection and Re-Homing of Animals told the Gazette: "In the past month we have received 100 per cent more calls, not just from local people, but also from outside of the area. This is really worrying because people are also less interested in taking on the animals we have - dogs, cats, rabbits, sheep and pigs," he said. "Some people cannot afford costs such as vets' bills food and animal grooming. Others cannot afford their mortgages and have had to move into rented accommodation where they either cannot take their animals or are asked to pay big deposits because of potential damage by pets."We have owners in tears when they have to pass their pets over."Not only the pets who lose their homes are being affected, he said. There are also potential problems if people cut back costs on worming, de-fleaing, neutering and vaccination of their pets. Mr Ford is concerned that basic animal care is going down and has put up advice sheets for owners in the SPRA charity shops in Bideford, Barnstaple and Minehead.Diana Lewis of the North Devon Animal Ambulance has a similar story."The situation is definitely hurting animals, because the first things many people jettison when money gets tight are the animals," she said."We have never, ever had so many animals coming in. We have easily doubled the amount coming in per month. And we have a huge waiting list."Not only domestic pets, but also recently eight ponies. Also farm dogs, with farmers going out of business. "While being inundated with animals, we have fewer people coming forward to re-home them as they think twice if they can afford it."Val Pounds of North Devon branch of the RSPCA said they, too, had more animals in their care than they had ever had. And their waiting list has almost doubled."We have people ringing up to say they have to move out of their houses and cannot take the pets," she said."We would rather take them in than have them left behind or have people trying to struggle on when they cannot afford to care for them. "At the same time charity donations are going down. A lot of people usually give happily coming up to Christmas, but now many cannot afford it.