A hectic festive season has seen RSPCA centres looking after more animals than ever before. Even on Christmas Day the charity received a call from a concerned member of the public every two minutes.

RSPCA centres are looking after more pets and wildlife than ever before after a hectic festive season. Christmas, coupled with the cold weather, saw the charity’s services throughout England and Wales in high demand with its national call centre dealing with thousands of enquiries every day.

On Christmas Eve, a call was answered every minute from a member of the public concerned about the welfare of an animal. Even on Christmas Day when people were tucking into their turkeys, a telephone call was taken every two minutes.

Three of the six Staffy pups brought to RSPCA Mallydams Wood on the day before Christmas EveBetween December 23 and 27, RSPCA inspectors investigated 329 complaints about abandoned animals, which is nearly three an hour around the clock.

Throughout December, the charity investigated 2,112 calls about abandoned animals – an increase on last year’s figure, which stood at 1,923 (1,523 in 2008).

Inspector Tony Woodley said: “After all these years of trying to encourage people to not abandon their pets, it’s so disheartening to see that it’s still happening in its droves. These animals are simply cast aside with little thought for their health and wellbeing. There’s no excuse for such callous and heartless behaviour.”

Abandoned animals helped by the charity this festive season include:

  • Three-month-old Eve the German shepherd cross puppy (pictured below with inspector Becky Follows), who was found in a box down an alleyway in Sheffield on Christmas morning and taken to the local branch.
  • A litter of six Staffordshire bull terrier puppies (main picture) brought to RSPCA Mallydams Wood in Sussex on the day before Christmas Eve.
  • A seven-week-old kitten found wandering in the snow on December 16 in Great Ayton village, near Middlesbrough.

RSPCA wildlife centres have also taken unusually high numbers of animals over the festive season, which cannot be re-released yet due to the continuing cold weather.

RSPCA inspector Becky Follows with Eve, found abandoned on Christmas morningStapeley Grange Wildlife Centre in Cheshire has had the busiest winter since it opened 16 years ago. By the end of December, it had around 90 hedgehogs, 21 buzzards, 21 common buzzards and 100 swans in its care – 20 of which were admitted after an oil spill in the Liverpool docks.

Wildlife supervisor Andrew Smith said: “This was our busiest December on record with nearly twice the usual number of admissions. The weather was the biggest influence. Large numbers of wild animals were admitted due to the snow and ice making it harder for them to feed and animals which would otherwise have been ready for release are staying longer because of the harsh conditions.”

More than 300 animals have been admitted to West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Somerset during the winter spell so far, including 33 swans, 22 buzzards and 66 hedgehogs – around 80% of which are this year’s young who have not built enough weight up to hibernate.

The Eastwinch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk has become home to 225 hedgehogs and 92 swans.

Centre secretary Ann Smith said: “We’re stuffed out with 412 animals here at the moment which is unheard of at this time of year. We’ve never had this many hedgehogs in before.”

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