NEARLY 500 animals were abandoned in the summer months across Hampshire last year.

Figures released by animal charity RSPCA said that throughout June, July and August, 499 animals were abandoned in the county.

Across England and Wales, the RSPCA received 23,673 calls about dumped animals, which equates to one call every six minutes.

Among those abandoned last year was a skinny pony which was crawling with maggots and found abandoned in Hampshire in June last year.

The eight-year-old emaciated horse had ulcerated skin from a suspected lice infestation and was very dehydrated.

Despite all this, he was still very affectionate and loving when the RSPCA rescued him.

Dermot Murphy, RSPCA’S chief inspectorate officer, said: “Sadly, we see a dramatic increase in the number of animals abandoned in the summer.

“From unwanted newborn kittens and puppies dumped in boxes and bins, exotic pets cast aside or horses abandoned in someone else’s field, dumped like rubbish.

“There is never an excuse to abandon an animal in this way and we would urge anyone who is struggling to cope with their pets to contact us or other charities for help.

"Our pets are sentient beings and great companions who rely on us for their health and happiness so dumping them like an old mobile phone or a piece of rubbish should never be the answer.

“The peak in animals being abandoned in the summer puts a massive strain on our inspectors, animal centres and branches who are left picking up the pieces when an animal is dumped.”

The RSPCA has said the 2018 summer figures an increase of at least 85 per cent on the number of animals reported abandoned during the colder months.