RSPCA rescuers called out more than 200 times in 72 hours

Animal rescue officers have been called out more than 200 times in the past 72 hours, the RSPCA has said.

The animal welfare charity’s specialist water team, made up of 65 officers and a fleet of 35 inflatable boats, have made multiple “dramatic rescues” – pulling animals including horses, sheep and chickens out of rising waters.

The specialist water rescue team
The specialist water rescue team

The team is part of Defra’s National Flood Response Team which has been on call during Storm Dennis.

Forecasters predict that more bad weather is yet to come and as of Wednesday afternoon, flood warnings remained in place for 120 places, with a further 150 lower category alerts also present.

The RSPCA says that its water rescue team, which had been stood down on Wednesday morning, would be put back on standby on Thursday at 7am.

Rescued sheep
Rescued sheep

Jason Finch, the team co-ordinator said that after 20 years working for the RSPCA he had never known conditions to be so bad.

“We’ve been incredibly busy and our amazing staff have been working round the clock to help as many animals as possible…and have had a number of dramatic rescues.

“Working during floods and storms is extremely challenging because we have to ensure the safety of our staff, members of the public and the animals themselves.”

The team saved six chickens which were from their flooded coups in Surrey (RSPCA/PA)
The team saved six chickens which were from their flooded coups in Surrey (RSPCA/PA)

Mr Finch said that in some cases they had been forced to launch boats to remove animals that were “in serious danger”.

The charity has launched an emergency fundraising appeal to help with its rescues, which have included multiple horses, over 60 sheep, a swan, and six chickens which were saved from flooded coups in Surrey.

🌊🐑 Thank you to everyone who has already donated! Our animal rescuers scrambled to more than 100 calls during #StormDennis and continue to respond to animals in need. Any donation to support our team is more than appreciated. please help today:

— RSPCA (England & Wales) (@RSPCA_official) February 18, 2020

“We would never recommend owners put themselves in danger to rescue their animals but we can understand how emotional it is seeing your beloved pets at risk,” said RSPCA animal welfare officer, Marie Stevens.