We’re bracing ourselves for ‘Black Saturday’ – the busiest day of the year for our emergency helpline.

On Saturday 20 July, we expect to receive a call for help for an animal at least every eight seconds. We’re already receiving a record number of calls (a 65 per cent increase since January 2012), and hundreds more animals being abandoned over the summer period.


Help us make light work of Black Saturday

RSPCA Chief Officer of the Inspectorate Kevin Degenhard said:

“We are asking people who see an animal in need over the weekend and through the summer to think whether they are able to help the animal themselves before calling the helpline.”

If you see an animal in need of help during this busy period here are some things you can do to help:

  • For animals trapped in hot cars call 999. We don’t have any legal powers to break into cars, so would need police there anyway.
  • For stray animals, please contact your local authority. They are legally required to have a dog warden to deal with stray dogs in your area.
  • For injured wildlife, if it is safe and practical, please do take them to a vet.
  • If your call is urgent, please dial 0300 123 4999, remain patient and hang on until we can answer the call.
  • If we are unable to get to the animal quickly, call a local vet, rather than leave an animal in distress.

We receive one call approximately every 30 seconds to our national cruelty line. During peak periods, this rises to one call every eight seconds. This understandably puts a huge strain on our frontline staff, which equates at just one for every 110,000 people across the whole of England and Wales.


‘Home Guard’ needed

Because of the increasing demand for our services we’re calling for a ‘Home Guard’ of willing volunteers to help take up the strain at peak times.

Degenhard continues:

“We are close to breaking point, with simply not enough existing staff and volunteers to take the strain. No-one involved with the RSPCA wants to let an animal in need down, but we really need urgent help.

“We are a nation of animal lovers – that is why we are appealing to people with any skills or knowledge of working with animals to come forward and volunteer for emergency duties.”

Duties might include picking up injured wildlife and transporting animals in need to vets and RSPCA centres.

We hope the special volunteers group will be formed by summer 2014 and will provide specialist voluntary support to our officers. A vigorous selection and training process will begin by the end of this year, and all applicants are expected to have experience of working with animals and have a full clean driving license.

We are particularly looking for ex-inspectors, local authority or trading standards employees, police or those who have worked in wildlife or animal centres.

If you would like to be part of the RSPCA’s ‘Dad’s Army’ please go to My RSPCA and email us your details with the heading ‘SPECIAL VOLUNTEER’.