FAMILIES struggling to pay the bedroom tax in Blackburn with Darwen are being forced to dump their pets on the street, it has been claimed.

Eunice Faulkner runs Blackburn Cat Rescue from her home in Pleckgate Road, and spoke out after seeing a sharp increase in the number of pets left without homes.

Mrs Faulkner, who funds her cat rescue herself, spoke out after taking in a stray cat and her three kittens when they were rescued from an abandoned factory in Gate Street, Blackburn.

They were taken in after concerned passers-by noticed the cat hunting for food at the industrial unit.

She said: “I get at least one call a week from someone having to rehome their pet because of the bedroom tax, it’s that bad.

“People are being ushered out of their homes into something smaller, and then being told they can’t have pets or can only have one.

“One man said he had a rescued cat and a rescued dog and he was being forced to choose between the two.”

Denise Partridge, 58, was instrumental in rescuing the cat and kittens this week.

She said: “The cats were surviving off pigeons. The mum had been going in and out a hole to find food.”

Because the factory was not locked up, Denise said she and some friends went inside to help find the animals.

She said: “We called the RSPCA and an inspector came and dropped a safe trap off, but it took us almost two weeks to catch them all, and we thought two might have died.

“The cat is only about ten months old and the kittens are around eight weeks. The mum was underweight and would have died if we didn’t step in.”

After calling various organisations, Denise said only Eunice stepped in to help take care of the four cats.

She added: “She was the only person who stepped in to help. She said she couldn’t take anymore but nobody else took them so she stepped in.

“She pays for everything herself.”

The story was followed closely on social media sites, where Andy Richards posted regular updates.

When the last kitten was caught on Tuesday night, he wrote: “I was so worried this last one was going to be all alone for the night in there. This has been an incredible rescue by Denise and Eunice.”