RSPCA’s best Christmas rescues


While many people enjoyed a relaxing Christmas with friends and family, RSPCA rescuers were busier than ever. From the 24th December to the 1st January, RSPCA officers and inspectors responded to 15,723 calls and helped 759 animals. This is a 36 per cent increase from 11,530 calls between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day last year.

Here are a few of those festive rescues…

Engine trouble

On Christmas Eve (24th December) the RSPCA had an emergency call from a motorist that realised his cat, Felix, had crawled inside his car engine and had got stuck.

RSPCA Inspector Krissy Raine attended the call to Coulby Newham in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, to find the black-and-white cat tangled up in the pipes and rods under the bonnet of the silver Nissan people carrier.

She said, “Cats often crawl under cars or even into the engines during the winter as it can be nice and warm inside the bonnet. While many will crawl out again with ease we do often get called out to help those who get themselves a little stuck.”

On this occasion inspector Raine had to call the fire and rescue service for a help so they could carefully pull parts of the engine apart to free the curios kitty and return her safely home.

Look at her – she’s not even remotely sorry.

Deer-ing rescue

Inspector Emily Astilberry and animal collection officer (ACO) Paige Burnham were called out on Christmas day for a tricky rescue as a male deer had got himself tangled up in electric fencing. 

ACO Burnham went to Horsham St Faith, Norfolk, to help the deer but quickly realised she needed back-up and called in Inspector Astillberry, who later said, “He had snapped the fence in three places and had the fencing and a fence pole wrapped tightly around his neck and antlers, still connected to the fence posts at the edge of the field in two places.

“Around 15ft of fencing was trailing behind and he was desperately trying to free himself but just getting more and more tangled. We couldn’t get near him at first as he was leaping in the air and thrashing around to try to get himself free.”

The pair called in vets for help and started to get some control over the deer by winding the fencing around the secure posts at the edge of the field. He was sedated so they could properly remove the fencing, which they did by torchlight before releasing him back to the wild. The five-hour rescue operation left them exhausted.

“We finished the rescue at 6pm and made our way back to our vehicles, tired and in need of a mince pie,” Inspector Astilberry added. “It was hard, difficult, exhausting work but well worth every minute of our Christmas to see him free again at the end of our efforts!”

Puppies in the woods

Three 11-week-old puppies are in the care of the RSPCA after they were found abandoned in the Forest of Dean, on 30th December. They were discovered by a member of public in Stenders Court and were thought to have been left there at some point overnight.

RSPCA inspector Suzi Smith, who is investigating, said, “We are urging anyone who has any information about how these dogs came to be abandoned to please contact us in complete confidence on 0300 123 8018. We’re hoping somebody will recognise the puppies, and help us find out how they came to be abandoned.”

The pups – two boys and one girl – have now been named Packham, Twiggy, and Harry after recent New Year’s honours recipients, and are being cared for at an RSPCA centre.

Horsing around

On New Year’s Eve, firefighters and RSPCA officers launched a life-saving mission to rescue a horse that had fallen into a swimming pool in Maidstone, Kent. The house owner spotted a horse in his pool and alerted the animal welfare charity along with the fire and rescue service. Inspector Rosie Russon and animal collection officer Brian Milligan rushed to help the frightened horse.

“The caller wasn’t sure how long she’d been there and feared she may have been there all night,” Inspector Russon said.

“She was clearly very cold. The water was only around 1m deep so although it came only up to her stomach, she wasn’t able to get out of the pool on her own – and I was concerned about her getting hypothermia.” The mare, thought to be around four-years-old and nicknamed Ellie by her rescuers, is thought to have been straying when she fell into the pool in the dark.

Inspector Russon added, “She has some minor injuries to her legs where she fell through the pool lining and hit the bottom but, other than that, she’s been very lucky. She’s now been taken into care by one of our private boarding establishments where she’ll remain so she can be monitored and properly assessed. If no one comes forward to claim her, then we’ll start the process of finding her a suitable home.”

Images by the RSPCA  


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