The RSPCA is asking members of the public to do everything they can keep animals safe in the snow and ice. Due to the adverse weather conditions the charity claims it is currently able to respond to emergency calls only.

The RSPCA is asking members of the public to do everything they can keep animals safe in the snow and ice after being called about a number of dogs, horses and wildlife in sticky situations.

Due to the adverse weather conditions the RSPCA claims it is currently able to respond to emergency calls only, but is doing what it can.

Dog in snowTim Wass, head of the RSPCA’s inspectorate, said: “It might seem like common sense to keep pets away from snow, ice and frozen ponds, but the fact is that animals have been getting trapped and people need to be more alert to the dangers. We are doing what we can to get to animals in distress, but the weather is making it difficult to reach them. So we need people and pet owners to be sensible and do what they can to avoid these situations happening in the first place.”

On Wednesday January 6, calls for help included:

  • Two horses fell through ice on a frozen pond in Methley, Leeds. West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue rescued the horses.
  • A dog was stuck on a frozen lake in Putney, London.
  • A dog fell through ice on a frozen river in Burley-in-Wharfedale, West Yorkshire.
  • A horse was trapped in an icy pond in Bicester, Oxfordshire. The horse eventually got itself out of the pond.
  • A dog was trapped on floating ice on a lake in North Hykeham near Lincoln. It was rescued by the local Fire and Rescue service.
  • A swan was trapped in ice in Stourport on Severn. The bird was rescued by Bishops Wood Swan Rescue.
  • A horse was trapped by its hind legs in a frozen pond in Barrowby near Grantham.
  • A dog fell into a frozen lake in Pontefract. The local Fire and Rescue service helped rescue the animal.

Today (January 7) the RSPCA has already been asked to help rescue a swan stuck in ice in Rodley, Leeds, three dogs stuck in a pond in Ipswich and cygnets trapped on a pond in Devizes, Wiltshire.

However, the charity is appealing to members of the public to double check whether animals are actually in need of help, as it has been called out to incidents where animals are actually in no danger.


Here are the RSPCA’s top tips on looking after animals in cold weather:

  • Pets need extra special care during the chilly winter months. Keep a close eye on outdoor animals, such as guinea pigs and rabbits. Put extra bedding in their home and be prepared to move them into a shed or garage for extra shelter whilst the weather is cold.
  • Try to maintain a regular routine with your dog.
  • The RSPCA advises that horses and ponies kept outside in the winter must have access to shelter at all times. They also need a constant supply of fresh water (check that ice hasn’t formed on it) and a rug to protect them against the cold and wet. Extra food will be needed too, as winter grazing provides very little nourishment.
  • Dog owners must keep their pets well away from ponds and lakes that are iced over. Thin ice may break under a dog’s weight. If your dog does get trapped on ice, call for help rather than risking your own safety by trying to rescue it yourself. Also watch out for dogs’ paws becoming impacted with snow – this can cause them discomfort.
  • If you have a pond, make sure you check it every day for ice, as toxic gases can build up in the water of a frozen pond. These may kill fish or frogs that are hibernating at the bottom.
  • If a pond freezes over, carefully place a saucepan of hot water on the surface to gently melt a hole in the ice. Never tip boiling water straight onto the pond or break the ice with force, as this can harm or even kill any fish that live there.
  • Don’t forget to look after the wildlife in your garden. In winter, birds may have difficulty finding normal food supplies such as berries, insects, seeds, worms and fruit. An extra titbit from your kitchen will help to keep them going.
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