FIFE was the "busiest area" in the country for the Scottish SPCA last year with reports of 8,266 animals in need.

The charity said 2022 was one of the most challenging in its 183-year history with soaring household bills forcing people to "choose between feeding themselves or their animal".

The SSPCA said they fielded more than a quarter of a million calls to its free helpline – many calls were from Fife – with more than 4,000 from people saying they had to give up their pet due to financial reasons, including vet bills.

Chief executive Kirsteen Campbell said: “Through our animal helpline and inspectors, the SSPCA has a unique insight into the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on people and their pets.

"Last year we saw first hand how people were having to choose between feeding themselves or their animal, or making the heart-breaking decision to give their pet up."

To try and help, the SSPCA launched Pet Aid last year which works with local foodbanks and community projects to provide vital pet supplies to people when they need it most.

She added: "The best thing for animal welfare is to keep a human and a pet together, and that’s what our overriding ambition is through this crisis.”

Despite the challenges, last year the charity responded to 86,078 reports of animals in need – around 235 a day.

This included assisting more than 13,000 dogs, almost 8,000 cats and over 3,000 hedgehogs, with 3,434 animals rehomed.

The SSPCA's National Wildlife Rescue Centre treated 4,908 wild animals, 74 per cent of which were successfully released back to the wild.

The charity was also involved in tackling organised crime with 124 investigations into the puppy trade, 52 into the illegal ear cropping of dogs and 72 probes into animal fighting and badger baiting.

If anyone is struggling to care for an animal, they should call the SSPCA’s confidential helpline on 03000 999 999.