Our busiest day
A dead puppy found in a garden with body parts missing, a cat thrown from a moving car and the body of a neglected dog found dumped in a suitcase. These were just some of the heartbreaking incidents that we dealt with on our busiest day of the year.
On 18 July alone we received 4,060 calls to our cruelty line - on average six a minute during opening hours - with 1,775 incidents investigated by frontline rescuers.
Reports are prioritised and tasked out to frontline rescue teams across England and Wales who work tirelessly to help bring animals to safety, and animal abusers to justice.
Meanwhile, staff and volunteers at our centres and branches up and down the country provide any treatment and care the rescued animals may need throughout the day.
At 8 am the lines go live and immediately the calls start flooding in...
Summary8.00am - First call of the day
9.00am - Reports of a distressed squirrel
10.00am - Five rabbits abandoned in the West Midlands
11.00am - A pigeon is set free
12.00pm - Deer released from netting and sparrow found in grille
1.00pm - Cat thrown from moving vehicle
2.00pm - Water rescue team are sent to retrieve a gosling
3.00pm - Dead dog discovered in an abandoned suitcase
4.00pm - Morecambe food bank receives a welcome delivery
5.00pm - Officers rescue two swans
6.00pm - Collapsed kitten found in garden
7.00pm - Magpie trapped in vent
8.00pm - Lines close for the day
First call of the day
One of the first calls of the day is from a woman in the London area whose pet cat has brought an injured fledgling bird into the home. Advice is given to take the bird to a vet who would be able to assess its injuries and hopefully treat the bird so it can be returned to the wild.
In Rustington, near Littlehampton, Sussex, a report comes in about a fox found collapsed and struggling to walk on a grass verge near a busy road. Animal rescue officer (ARO) Chloe Wilson arrived at the scene within an hour of the call being taken. The fox is believed to have been hit by a car and was so badly injured it was decided the kindest option would sadly be to put him to sleep to end his suffering. ARO Wilson said: “It is always so sad when we have incidents like this but at least the fox was cared for in the end and was not left to suffer a lingering death.”
Meanwhile, staff at our East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk are feeding the 18 seals in their care. Feeding times start with the common seal pups being tube-fed fish soup in an isolation room, while others, who have recently progressed through their rehabilitation, self-feed. Feeding the orphan seal pups is a busy task - with the teams feeding the orphan seal pups in the isolation unit several times throughout the day.
Reports of a distressed squirrel
In West Yorkshire, a member of the public reports seeing a distressed squirrel on the ground with a toilet roll holder stuck around his head and struggling to breathe. ARO Dave Holgate is sent to the scene but when he arrives the squirrel is 30 feet up a nearby tree.
Dave calls the fire brigade for help and using specialist poles they are able to coax the mammal down. He frees the squirrel from the loo roll and releases him nearby within an hour of receiving the call.
ARO Dave said: “It was a good job the squirrel was spotted as he would have been unable to feed and was obviously terrified. Litter is one of the biggest hazards our wildlife faces today - and it’s something that’s very easy to resolve. We would always urge the public to take extra care to dispose of their rubbish responsibly so animals aren’t hurt. We’re grateful to the firefighters for their help - it’s a great example of what we can achieve together for animal welfare.”
Five rabbits abandoned in West Midlands
In the West Midlands, five rabbits were abandoned at our Coventry and District Branch by a member of the public who said they had been found in a box in the road. The animal rescue centre, which does not have facilities for caring for rabbits, took the pets for a health-check before finding them a foster carer who will help them until they are found homes. Across England and Wales, foster carers offer valuable support to the work of our officers and centres.
Pigeon is set free
In Leicester, a call is received from a member of the public who has seen a pigeon hanging upside down from a roof. Inspector Herchy Boal arrives to find the pigeon with their foot stuck in between two roof slates. The bird is 20ft high so the inspector contacts the local fire and rescue service for assistance. The crew put up a long ladder - but as they prepared to climb up, the pigeon freed itself and flew across the roof. The inspector was relieved when the bird - who thankfully appeared unharmed - moments later flew away to a nearby tree to recover from their ordeal.
Deer released from netting
In Berkshire, we received a report about a deer trapped in football netting at a garden in Padworth Common.
Animal rescue officer Vanessa Taylor was sent to the scene and was able to free the Muntjac deer which was uninjured and could return to the wild. Sadly, animals stricken by football netting are a common sight for our officers.
Vanessa said: “It’s really important that people understand how lethal football netting can be and how often these incidents happen. This deer was lucky to have been spotted and was uninjured."
Meanwhile, in Lincoln, a motorist spotted a sparrow hawk trapped in the grille of a car.
The driver believes it must have flown into the front of the vehicle the previous night but was only discovered the next morning. The bird was freed and one of our volunteers took it to a vet for a check-up. Once it has a clean bill of health, it will be released back into the wild.
Cat thrown from moving vehicle
In Cheshire, a cat believed to have been thrown from a moving vehicle is being cared for by our staff. Winston, a six-week-old kitten, was spotted by an eagle-eyed delivery driver. He had suffered a bilateral femoral fracture and was crawling around in agony on the side of the road before the driver stopped the traffic and placed him in a box and took him to a Nantwich-based vet.
The feline underwent successful surgery to pin the broken leg and is now under the care of our Crewe, Nantwich & District Branch
who plan to move him to a foster home this week.
Meanwhile, our special operations unit attended three addresses along with police in the West of England and seized eight dogs as part of an operation.
Back at East Winch in Norfolk, it is time for staff to check on five feisty badger cubs - who came in separately to the centre when they were just a few days old and orphaned.
Water rescue team retrieve gosling
In South Yorkshire, a water rescue team is sent out to rescue a gosling trapped in a fishing line at Highfields Lake in Doncaster. Sadly the gosling was so badly injured the kindest thing was to put the bird to sleep to end their suffering.
The team were then called out a few miles away to Manvers Lake, in Manvers, South Yorkshire, to rescue another gosling caught in angling litter. Fortunately, this time the gosling was freed and found to be in good health - so was released back on the water and happily swam away with his family.
Inspector Sara Jordan, who took part in the rescue along with colleagues Inspector John Gibson and ARO Kate Hetherington, said both incidents highlighted the dangers posed by discarded fishing line. Sara said: “We sadly deal with many animals arriving into our care with terrible injuries caused by angling litter such as discarded fishing line and hooks to plastic netting. Positively, the majority of anglers do dispose of their litter properly but it is frustrating that those who don’t possibly don’t realise how dangerous it is to animals. Discarded line, in particular, is a terrible hazard for wildlife, particularly as it can be almost invisible.”
In South East Wales, inspector Sophie Daniels has been called to reports by a member of the public concerned about a dead dog - with body parts missing - seen in a garden along with another live dog. The body of the dead puppy has been removed by Sophie and a vet has confirmed that the injury is consistent with an attack from another dog. Enquiries are ongoing.
Dead dog discovered in suitcase
In South Yorkshire, a caller reports finding a dead dog in a suitcase which appears to be in poor bodily condition - with evidence suggesting the pet may have been drowned. The suitcase was found dumped in a wooded area in Spring Close Dell. Animal rescue officer Liz Braidey is sent to collect the body which will be taken to a vet for further examinations and to see if any clues - such as a microchip - may help identify the owner and also establish the cause of death.
Meanwhile, in a shocking report, a cat has been seen pushed out of an upstairs window at a property in Kent. The call centre tasked animal rescue officer Chloe Wilson to the scene but no one was in the property and no cat could be seen around. However, further investigations will now take place - with our officers often needing to make multiple visits to premises to complete their enquiries.
Morecambe food bank receives delivery
In Lancashire, our food bank coordinator Alison Fletcher visits Morecambe Bay Food Bank to deliver a pet food bundle - the average of which provides 315 daily dog meals and 175 daily cat meals. The RSPCA pet food bank partnership is currently delivering on average 50 bundles per month in the North of England - providing over 15,000 daily dog meals and 8,000 daily cat meals every month. We are set to expand the work of the project across the rest of England and Wales over the coming months to help those pet owners who are struggling with the cost of living crisis. Support is also available to owners during the financial crisis via our dedicated Hub and cost of living helpline - 0300 123 0650.
In Leicestershire, one of our inspectors visits a house to respond to reports about a dog with sore skin. The white terrier dog has sores on his body and is scratching constantly. The inspector has a talk with the owner and gives advice that the dog needs to see a vet as soon as possible to get the treatment he needs. The owner agrees to call a vet that afternoon and the inspector advises the dog needs to be checked again in a week's time to ensure he is getting the treatment needed.
Officers rescue two swans
In Northamptonshire, three officers and an animal rescue volunteer attend a report of two swans and three ducks covered in oil at a lake. The oil is believed to be petrol or diesel, which could have been deliberately dumped in the water. The team of officers successfully catch the two swans, who are taken to a wildlife hospital to be washed and treated for ingesting oil. The three ducks managed to evade being caught so the officers will try again the next day.
Inspector Fiona Howell arrives at The Holdings Animal Centre in Kempsey, Worcestershire, with a new arrival. Black cat ‘Ken’ has travelled 30 miles from the charity’s Birmingham Animal Centre and Hospital after his previous owner’s ill health meant he could no longer be looked after. Claire Wood from The Holdings said: “Having come from a loving home, Ken is understandably a little confused about what’s happened to him, but we’ll give him plenty of time and space to settle in and get used to his new surroundings. He’s already showing an interest in food which is a good sign. Once we’ve assessed him and got to know him better, we’ll start the search for a new home, but in the meantime, he’ll be getting lots of TLC from the team here.”
Collapsed kitten found in garden
In the West Midlands, a kitten collapses in the garden of a house in Newcombe Road in Birmingham. The female cat, aged about six to eight weeks, has an injured leg and appears to be breathing with difficulty. ARO Baljit Dhamia attends and transports the poor puss to our Birmingham Animal Centre and Hospital. Staff immediately give the feline urgent veterinary treatment including oxygen. They have named the kitten Manny - after the person who found her - and will be keeping a watchful eye on her over the next few critical hours.
Magpie trapped in vent
In Penylan in Cardiff, inspector Christine McNeil comes to the aid of a trapped magpie who had fallen down a chimney on a rooftop in the Lady Mary area, and was stuck, and thrashing around, in a vent.
The magpie was released by cutting away at the plasterboard to create a bigger hole - before Christine brought the bird to safety, wearing gloves and a special mask given the ongoing Avian Influenza outbreak. Fortunately, after a thorough welfare check, the magpie wasn't injured and was released back to the wild in the caller's back garden.
Six-year-old Erin O'Brien got to delay her bedtime to watch inspector Christine complete the rescue - and believes our rescuers are "like superheroes".
Erin said: "I was so shocked and surprised when my Mummy told me there was a magpie stuck in our chimney! I was really worried about the bird - and just wanted him to be safe. Christine did such a good job. RSPCA inspectors are a bit like superheroes, and I want to say thank you to her. I was so happy I got to watch the magpie fly away because he was free."
Lines close for the day
As the cruelty lines close for the evening, rescuers - who are never really off duty - finish their day job and the animals safely in our care settle down for the night knowing they are in safe and loving hands.
Inspector Christine McNeil - who rescued two kittens named Phil and Del, and a magpie, and helped countless other animals over the course of the day - clocks off at 9 pm and returns home to look after her foster dog Trevor. Many of our frontline officers offer further support by taking on foster pets or rehoming rescue animals, some even give up their own time to hand-rear orphaned animals throughout the night - providing round-the-clock care to animals.
While the teams see unimaginable cruelty on the frontline every single day, it’s not all doom and gloom and thanks to the calls to the cruelty line on this day so many animals were saved. Once they are rehabilitated in our care they will either be returned to the wild or will find the loving homes they deserve.