THREE animals are abandoned every five minutes in Spain, it has been revealed.
The figure amounts to 300,000 animals every year, according to green group Ecologistas en Accion.
The new data coincides with the Christmas period when, according to the organisation, 33% of pets are abandoned.
Half of the country’s cats and dogs arrive in homes as gifts during this time, while there has also been an increase in non-traditional pets.
Turtles, ferrets, raccoons and parrots are among the increasing numbers of exotic and invasive species in Spanish homes.
An Ecologistas spokesperson said: “Their abandonment has the added problem of creating significant populations of these species in the natural environment that damage ecosystems and displace native species, becoming one of the greatest threats to biodiversity.”
The group also points to the recent surge in the adoption of pets, which it claims can actually help perpetuate the cycle of ‘animal abuse’.
Ecologistas also reminded the public of the ‘great responsibility’ of keeping a pet and the ‘material and emotional care’ they require.
Chesus Ferrer, of the organisation, added: “The adoption of pets means taking on a needy animal.
“In addition, the work of animal protectors is very important and there are many other ways to get involved with them.
“Either through donations or subscriptions, or dedicating their hours to volunteer work. In this way we too can contribute to animal welfare.”