Facts, figures and myth-busting

We're the UK's largest animal welfare charity and everything we do is based on our mission, our policies and our values. 

The outlined facts and figures below demonstrate how we help reduce animal cruelty and prioritise animals' needs every day. Read on to find the truth behind some of those RSPCA myths. 

Jump to myth-busting

Key stats

  • A total of 51,505 complaints of alleged cruelty were investigated (and closed) in 2021.
  • The animals with the highest number of incidents reported in 2020 were dogs (56,563 incidents) and the second were cats (55,667 incidents).
  • Every investigation we carry out is prompted by a call from a member of the public.
  • It costs us £140 million pounds a year to run and as a registered charity (with no shareholders) and all money is put back into day-to-day costs.
  • In the summertime, we collect an abandoned animal every hour.
  • When the weather is hotter we've been known to receive up to 1,000 extra calls a day to our emergency phone line.
  • For our prosecutions in 2021, we secured 751 convictions in court - up 19.4% from 629 in 2020.

Cruelty line facts

In 2021, our cruelty line received 1,081,018 calls from members of the public. That's the equivalent of:
 
  • 20,789 calls a week
  • 2,962 calls per day
  • 123 calls an hour
  • More than one call every 30 seconds
  • This is 6.4% more calls than in 2020.

Inspectorate

Our aim is to prevent cruelty. In most cases investigated by our inspectors, the welfare of the animals is improved by giving advice and education. This advice is followed by the majority of owners who only want the best for their animal. 
 
  • We have approximately 408 frontline rescuers working all hours of the day and night.
  • On average, we have one officer (including inspectors and animal rescue officers) for every 162,000 people in England and Wales (based on a population of 58,744,800).
  • This compares to one frontline police officer for every 566 members of the public (police per capita / Home office report).
  • Each inspector, on average, drives around 80 miles a day.
  • There were 4,245 improvement advice notices and verbal warnings given and 701 warning notices given out in 2020.

Branches

We run 14 animal centres, providing care, rehabilitation and rehoming for the most abused, neglected and abandoned animals in England and Wales. 
 
We have 145 'branches' across England and Wales and two branch trusts. Branches are separate charities but with ultimate responsibility to the national society at a legal level. These Branches, which are utterly invaluable to our work, run as separate entities and some have their own animal centres. Branches run 45 animal centres across the country in addition to the establishments above.
 
As a network across England and Wales, throughout 2021, our hospitals, branches and clinics:
 
  • Administered 88,994 treatments to animals (up 4.2% on 85,388 in 2020).
  • Neutered 46,806 animals (compared to 49,093 in 2020).
  • Microchipped 37,435 animals (8.2% more than 33,197 in 2020).
  • Received 59,792 animals in 2021 (8.4% more than 55,170 in 2020) - including 23,101 wildlife.

Volunteers

  • In one year, we've had an 85% increase in volunteers with more than 16,000 animal lovers donating their time for free to help animals in need.
  • There are more Millennial and Generation Z volunteers than ever before.
  • We have 4,800 micro-volunteers in total and this has seen a younger volunteer base with 66% of volunteers under 35, and 25 years old.
  • More than 100 Wildlife Casualty Volunteers collect sick and injured wildlife in their community and transport them to nearby wildlife centres and vets.
  • Over 300 volunteers foster domestic animals and equines, providing them with safe, caring environments whilst waiting to be adopted to a forever home or whilst we investigate a case of cruelty.

Myth-busting

We answer the truth about what we do, don't do and can't do!

Myth: We don't care about stray dogs or cats

In 2021 our cruelty line received 1,081,018 calls from members of the public - the equivalent of receiving a call every 30 seconds. With this huge number of reports, we have to prioritise those animals who are sick, injured and abused. Local Council dog wardens manage stray dogs and other charities help with stray cats.

Claim: We don't remove animals from people quickly enough

We're a charity, not a law enforcer, so we don't have the right to remove an animal. The police along with a vet need to assess whether the Animal Welfare Act has been broken. We always do what we can, but our power is limited!

Myth: We don't care about dogs being kept outdoors

Sadly it's not illegal to keep dogs outside if they have food, water and shelter - but this doesn't mean we don't care about them. We can only take action if the Animal Welfare Act is broken. 

Myth: We don't care about tethered horses

Unfortunately, the Animal Welfare Act permits the tethering of horses, though we don't necessarily agree with it. We try to educate owners about why this isn't good for a horse's welfare. This often resolves the issue without any need for further action.

Myth: You 'put to sleep' animals after they've been in your care for a certain number of days

Animals in our care are only euthanised on veterinary advice, or where we are legally obliged to do so. There are many animals in our care who have been waiting for forever homes for many months, sometimes even years! Could you give a rescued animal a forever home?

Claim: We don't help enough animals and, it takes ages for us to arrive

A total of 51,505 complaints of alleged cruelty were investigated (and closed) in 2021.
 
We have approximately 408 frontline rescuers some of whom are part-time. Each cover huge areas and inspectors drive 80 miles/day on average responding to reports.

Myth: We're Government-funded so don't need more money

We do receive some Government funding, but this amounts to less than 0.1% of our annual expenditure.
 
These funds are restricted, so can only be used to support our international work and some flood rescue work in the UK. They're not used to fund the bulk of our work in prevention, rescue or prosecutions, nor are they used to fund our campaigning efforts.
 
We're a charity and rely on public donations to fund and support our work. We rely on those leaving gifts in their wills and donations from our generous supporters to help us do what we do. 

Myth: We don't care about wild animals

We have to prioritise the animals nobody else can help. Vets and wildlife rehabilitators can often help with injured wildlife when we're unable to.

Last year our four national wildlife centres admitted 15,263 animals. Please note this number includes a few domestic/exotic species under 'admitted animals'. 

Myth: We have too much money and don't spend enough on animal welfare

For every £1 given to us, 82p is spent on animal welfare, 1p is spent on governance and 17p is spent raising the next £1. 
 
It costs the RSPCA £140 million pounds a year to run and as a registered charity (with no shareholders) all money is put back into the day-to-day costs.
 
  • We spent more than £48 million on our hospitals and animal centres. 
  • We spend more than £43 million on our inspectorate - which rescues animals from neglect and cruelty and investigates animal welfare offences. 
  • We supported RSPCA branches (who are separately registered charities) with more than £19.1 million from central funds.
These figures seem high, but sadly it's never enough, there are always more animals who need our help. 

Help us make a difference for animals

We couldn't do what we do without your support. What will you do to help animals in need today?