Nearly 16,000 more animals were abandoned last year than in 2007 as pet owners struggled with tough economic conditions, the RSPCA said Thursday.

The charity reported that 40,595 animals were abandoned in 2011, a 65 percent increase on 2007 when the figure was 24,638.

It also said convictions for animal cruelty had risen 23.5 percent in the last five years.

Britain pulled out of recession in October after a double-dip which started in 2009.

But Gavin Grant, the RSPCA?s chief executive, said the RSPCA was still facing a ?real crisis.?

"The recession may be over but these are very dark times for its silent victims - the animals. They have never needed our help so desperately," he said.

"This is a real crisis and despite the immense dedication of our staff and volunteers, we are struggling to cope. We really need our country's animal lovers to step forward and open their hearts, homes and purses in these extremely difficult times."