Pets are languishing in kennels and catteries for as long as 11/2 years as a result of falling rates of adoption by new carers. The number of dogs and cats adopted from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals last year slid 25 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively, from 2008. A total of 213 dogs and 193 cats were adopted, the lowest number since 2001, deputy director of welfare Dr Fiona Woodhouse said. It was the first decline after a steady increase in adoption numbers over the previous six years. The financial downturn could have been a cause of the decline, Woodhouse said, as people faced with uncertainty about their work and living circumstances would be less willing to adopt a pet. Even the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak had not triggered such a decline, and in fact the number of cats adopted had risen in 2003, when Sars struck. Potato (pictured), a 21-month female mongrel, has lived in the SPCA kennels for 17 months. Rescued when she was a puppy, Potato lived with a foster family for a few weeks and then went back to the SPCA, where she has lived since. Dogs and cats are not the only pets to be affected by the downturn in adoption rates. Bucky, a 20-month-old white male rabbit, has stayed with the SPCA for the past eight months. Since fewer pets are being adopted, the society takes in fewer new pets. To try to find new pet owners, the SPCA will open its kennels for an 'Adoptathon' this weekend together with 10 other animal welfare groups, including the Hong Kong Rabbit Society, the Lamma Animal Welfare Centre and Sai Kung Stray Friends.