More than 300 animals have been abandoned in Cumbria and rescued by the RSPCA.
The charity says it has been called out hundreds of times to deal with reports of pets being dumped by heartless owners, and warns this could get worse in the build-up to Christmas.
Cumbria came 36th out of 47 English counties on a chart of shame issued by the animal welfare charity, showing there were 310 abandonments this year up to October 1.
Greater Manchester had the worst results in the north, with 1,528 reports of animals being abandoned. Greater London – with 2,136 – came top in England.
Martin Marsh, an RSPCA superintendent, said: “Even in a nation of animal-lovers, there are people who don’t care about their pets at all. In fact, some literally treat them like rubbish.
“Worse still, holidays like Christmas can lead to an increase in abandonments as some people get rid of their pets rather than pay for them to be looked after while they are on holiday.
“Money may be spent on holidays and Christmas presents rather than seeking vet attention for ill or newborn animals, so they are dumped.”
Steph Barnes is a volunteer with the west Cumbria branch of Animal Concern Cumbria in Workington.
The animals they take are handed over by more responsible owners. She said in her experience issues such as relationship breakdowns lead to some people getting rid of pets.
“We have a very high number of those,” she added. “One half gets left with the dog and they may be working long hours and struggle to look after it.
“Often they have to go into rented accommodation and that can be a big problem.”
The Blue Cross cat rescue charity in Carlisle has also seen a number of abandoned felines this year, ranging from young kittens to ageing adults.
The RSPCA said some people regard animals as commodities that can be discarded without a moment’s thought. It has urged the public to stay vigilant and alert the RSPCA if they notice boxes, bins or bags that could contain abandoned animals.
The charity is also launching a winter campaign that will look at issues such as animals being discovered.
If you would like to give an abandoned animal a second chance, you can find a comprehensive listing of animals looking to be rehomed from across the county in the re-homing section of our site.