A petition to save a rehoming centre that has left pet lovers "devastated" has been launched - as the charity that runs it reveals it needs to make £1 million of savings.

The Blue Cross Rehoming Centre in Lewknor has apparently been "proposed for closure", according to a petition set up and signed by more than 2,300 people.

The centre opened in 2005 after relocating from Chalfont St Peter and can look after 24 dogs and 40 cats.

According to the Blue Cross charity, 110 employees are at risk of redundancy and talks are ongoing.

A spokesman said the charity has suffered a "challenging period" because of the coronavirus pandemic and savings of £1 million need to be made this year.

Georgina Heritage, a volunteer, has set up a petition to the charity's CEO Chris Burghes to try and reverse the decision to shut the centre.

She wrote: "The belief of Blue Cross Head Office appears to be that the physical rehoming site requirements of Lewknor's region can be met by the Burford centre in the Cotswolds.

"I firmly believe the rehoming services and aftercare offered by the Lewknor centre have vital importance.

"They ensure the highest quality of care to homeless pets, and are highly valued by our local communities. The centre in Lewknor covers the needs of a wide area (South Oxon, Bucks, Berks and West London) that Burford would certainly struggle to fulfill.

"And for our local fosterers, Burford is too distant to offer the level of support that Lewknor provides, especially with complex foster cases.

"Furthermore and very importantly, Lewknor is the closest rehoming centre to the Blue Cross hospitals in London."

She added: "I appreciate that charity funding has been hit by the effects of Covid. However it's my belief that Blue Cross hasn't considered the wider implications of closing this ideally located rehoming centre, or fully explored alternative cost saving strategies.

"It's anticipated that a record number of pets will be given up for rehoming as people return to work this year.

"Now, more than ever, we need Lewknor Rehoming Centre to remain open and offer vital support to pets in need."

The decision was branded "shortsighted" by one supporter who signed the petition.

Kayti Foster wrote: "Flabbergasted and disgusted that this short-sighted move is even being considered.

"As the creator of this petition (thank you) so rightly states, the wave (or tsunami) of about-to-be unwanted pets which were adopted during the lockdowns will, we all know, swamp all of the charities.

"Bad timing, Blue Cross. Lewknor has never been needed more. Sort this out."

Carol O'Neill said: "I have previously rescued dogs from the Blue Cross and there is such a need for this branch to stay open as when people start to return to work after the pandemic there will be a lot of dogs heading there from people who can no longer look after their dogs and go out to work."

And Gaynor Seckerson added: "Innocent lives will suffer and be lost without the very much needed care provided by this centre."

A spokesman for Blue Cross told the Bucks Free Press that it was with "deep regret" that they had to carry out a redundancy process.

They were unable to confirm whether or not the centre will indeed shut, but said: "The incredibly difficult decision to enter into consultation has come following a challenging period in which Blue Cross has explored several options to ensure financial sustainability for the charity and its work going forward.

"We are extremely thankful to our dedicated teams for the services they have delivered over the last 12 months, in which the charity helped 4,831 animals through our rehoming and behaviour services, treated over 32,000 pets through our veterinary work and reached nearly 10 million people through our outreach and advice.

"Our colleagues have done this in difficult circumstances and in what has been a year like no other.

"But, like so many other charities, we are not immune to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a significant impact on our financial position.

"The reality is we need to make £1 million worth of savings in 2021.

"We also need the right structure in place to ensure we are best placed to fulfil our three-year strategy to help more pets and people who need our help across the UK.

"We know this will be a difficult and unsettling time for those affected. Their wellbeing is of the highest priority to us.

"Each of our colleagues will be fully supported by our elected employee representatives, by their managers and our Executive Team.

"We must reiterate that as part of the consultation period, we will ensure all alternatives to individual redundancies are explored.

"We also wish to reassure supporters and colleagues while the consultation process is taking place, the charity and its staff and volunteers will still be carrying out all of our vital services and support for pet owners.

"Blue Cross will be keeping our colleagues fully updated on the consultation process, and once the process has been concluded, we will update all our stakeholders and valued supporters at the earliest opportunity with any decisions made."

You can view the petition at: www.change.org/p/blue-cross-head-office-save-blue-cross-lewknor-rehoming-centre