The most recent incident in the area was the abandonment of two dogs found roaming on Route 1A near the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets the day before Thanksgiving.
In North Attleboro, two dogs were found abandoned four months apart.
In February, following a snowstorm, a Chihuahua puppy was found by a woman walking her dogs on Draper Avenue. The dog was nursed back to health, named Axel and has become a local celebrity, serving as the town’s community resource dog.
In June, a 3-year-old female chocolate Labrador was found by a woman in the area of Chemawa Golf Course. It was severely malnourished and suffered from preexisting medical issues.
“I spoke with folks in our law enforcement and shelter teams and the consensus is clear: despite these isolated instances, there does not seem to be any kind of trend toward increased abandonment, thank goodness, “ Rob Halpin, a spokesman for the MSPCA, said in an email Thursday.
Statistics were not available, but Halpin said the agency relies on reports from communities served by the MSPCA and what individuals tell shelters when they have to surrender a pet.
Although they do not see a growing trend, the MSPCA is watching the state of the economy, which has the highest inflation in four decades.
“A general truism is that when people get into trouble, animals get into trouble,” Halpin said.
“This inflationary environment makes everything, including pet food and medications — as well as veterinary care — more expensive. That can lead to a rise in animals surrendered to shelters. So far, thank goodness, we’re not seeing that,” he said.
In Wrentham, authorities said one of the abandoned animals was an old, blind Chihuahua that had to be euthanized because of its age and health problems.
The other dog was a beagle-terrier mix that was about a year old. It was suffering from mange and bleeding when it was found but responded well to treatment and was adopted by a veterinarian in Wrentham.
Wrentham Police Chief Bill McGrath said police do not know who abandoned the dogs but are still investigating.
In the North Attleboro case, 24-year-old Dominique A. Scott of Pawtucket was charged with abandoning Axel and was subsequently placed on probation for two years.
Because she lacked any criminal record, the animal cruelty charge against the aspiring model was continued without a finding. She must complete counseling and cannot keep a pet while on probation.
Scott told police she became overwhelmed caring for the dog and tried to look for him after leaving it behind but could not find him, according to court records.
The abandoned Labrador, named Brownie, is still under the care of the North Attleboro Animal Shelter. No one has been charged and no one has come forward to claim the animal.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, it is estimated that about 6.3 million pet animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.1 million are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.
The most common reasons that owners rehome, or surrender, their pets is because problematic behaviors grew larger than expected or they had health problems the owner couldn’t handle, according to the ASPCA.
If anyone needs help meeting their pets’ primary care needs, they should contact their local animal shelter to understand what services may be available to them.
Halpin said if anyone needs to rehome their pet they should call their local animal shelter or the MSPCA rather than abandoning it outdoors. Pets left outdoors will be unable to access food, water and shelter and face innumerable threats from weather, cars, predators and other homeless pets, he said.
David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.