TRAPPED between walls, stranded in a river, stuck in a hole or simply unwanted, the RSPCA rescued nearly 150,000 domestic, wild and farm animals from dangerous and distressing situations last year.
The new figures released at the end of April show the number of animals rescued by the RSPCA - just because their owners did not want them any more - increased by 44 per cent last year.
Top of the league
Top of the league for the second year, cats were the most unwanted pets. Despite their apparent popularity - more households in Britain own one than any other domestic animal - the RSPCA rescued nearly 3,000 unwanted cats last year, more than double the number of unwanted dogs.
This news came at the start of RSPCA Week (which ran from 23-29 April), the Society’s largest annual fundraising and awareness raising push. To mark the occasion, award-winning comedian and cat owner Ricky Gervais highlighted the RSPCA’s vital role rescuing animals.
Gervais commented: ‘The RSPCA works round the clock rescuing thousands of animals every year and gives them the chance of a new life, but to carry on they need your help. Dig deep during RSPCA Week and give whatever you can to help your local branch help more animals in need.’
RSPCA annual rescue figures in 2006 also showed:
• Overall the most animals were rescued because of sickness and injury.
• The Society rescued more wild birds than any other type of animal.
• Animals in road traffic accidents increased by more than 2,000 - from 7,711 to 9,885.
• More cats were rescued from road traffic accidents and being stuck up trees than any other domestic or wild animal.
• The RSPCA responded to more than one million calls from members of the public.
Andy Foxcroft, chief officer of RSPCA inspectorate, said: ‘We rescue a staggering number of animals from a wide range of difficult, distressing and often surprising situations each year. But what strikes me particularly about our latest figures is the huge number of animals we rescue simply because their owners no longer want them.
‘With the new Animal Welfare Act now in force - which means owners are legally obliged to find out about their pet’s particular needs and care for it properly - we really hope more people will consider the full responsibility they are taking on before getting an animal. Hopefully this will mean the RSPCA rescuing fewer unwanted animals.’
A real Lulu of a ride
Typical RSPCA rescues in 2006 included that of ‘Lulu’, a 13-year-old cat from Birmingham who was microchipped in April 2006 after her owner realised the trauma of being separated from her wayward pet.
Earlier in the month Lulu had jumped inside the bumper compartment of a van in Smethwick and spent the day being driven around Birmingham. When the driver arrived back at Albion Business Park, Smethwick, he could hear the cries of a cat coming from under the bonnet so called the RSPCA for assistance.
RSPCA animal collection officer Boris Lasserre found Lulu inside the bumper under the bonnet of the van. She was not injured but sadly she was neither microchipped nor wearing a collar. No one had any idea who the cat belonged to or where she came from. The RSPCA put some posters up in the area, which Lulu’s owner spotted and reclaimed her beloved cat.
ACO Boris Lasserre said: ‘This incident just shows how important it is to have your pet microchipped. The owner had never thought of this but after nearly losing her cat forever she had Lulu microchipped at RSPCA Birmingham Animal Hospital.’
Mac-Cavity the mystery cat
Meanwhile, six month-old kitten Jinksy brought his owner’s house down in St Neots when he became wedged between two walls.
Jinksy had been exploring on flat roofs behind his home in Windmill Row in November 2006 when he fell into a two-inch-wide gap between his house and the neighbouring building. He managed to fall almost to the bottom of the space before becoming stuck.
Jinksy’s worried owners, Mr & Mrs Matthews, heard his distressed miaows and tried to coax him out but he became more and more wedged in. RSPCA inspector Mel Fisher was called and arrived to help at midday. By this time Mr Matthews had decided that the only course of action was to remove the bricks from his living room wall to free the terrified kitten.
Comedian Ricky Gervais promotes RSPCA Week, along with a kitten rescued by the RSPCA
Inspector Fisher assisted by holding Jinksy steady with a ‘grasper’ pole as he was suspended with only the two walls to stop him falling to the ground. After two and a half hours, enough bricks were removed to allow Jinksy to be pulled through the hole into his house. Despite being a little shaken and scared, the cat was uninjured.
Inspector Fisher said: ‘We weren’t sure that we would get Jinksy out as he kept panicking and becoming more stuck. It was such a relief when he was finally freed, safe and well. As an RSPCA inspector, I often see people who don’t care about their pet’s welfare, so it was really refreshing to be able to help someone who was prepared to go to any lengths for their animal.’
Shirley Matthews said: ‘When we named Jinksy, we didn’t realise he’d live up to his name! Jinksy had been stuck for five hours before he was freed, but thankfully he is happy and well and desperate to go outside on another adventure.’
• The RSPCA annual Cruelty Statistics for 2006 will be released early in August 2007.
Numbers of animals rescued in 2005 and 2006:
|Caged/Pet Bird (e.g. budgie)
|Exotic (e.g. reptile)
|Marine (e.g. seal)
|Small Furry (e.g. rabbit)
SHG ASK WHAT ANIMAL WELFARE ACT HAS ACHIEVED
As the RSPCA flexes its muscles with the introduction of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, The Self Help Group for Farmers, Pet Owners and Others experiencing difficulties with the RSPCA (The SHG) asks what the AWA has actually achieved.
The RSPCA are claiming a massive increase in the numbers of animals handed in and abandoned.
As predicted in paragraph three of the Memorandum submitted by the SHG to the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:
“The result of this legislation will be to reduce the number of people prepared to keep animals of any kind because they have privacy concerns and because they are not prepared to put themselves at risk of attracting the attention of the RSPCA whose unlawful activities are well documented, and who are feared by many animal keepers”
Anne Kasica of the SHG commented: “Even if we take out the huge numbers of people who have been terrified into giving up Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Staffie crosses who were loving family pets as a result of yet another RSPCA campaign on dangerous dogs, the RSPCA are still admitting that our predictions are correct.”