RSPCA Cymru rescued 23 animals every day in Wales during 2019 – as frontline officers continued to offer a “lifeline to pets, farm animals and wildlife”.

The latest figures are published as RSPCA Cymru launches its Annual Summary, shining a spotlight on all aspects of the charity’s work in Wales – including the 8,294* animals rescued by inspectorate officers last year.

Officers remain on the frontline during the coronavirus crisis, responding to emergencies. These new statistics highlight the animal rescues and welfare work which must continue amid the pandemic.

Among the 8,294 animals was a dare-devil badger, who was rescued after getting himself trapped in the precarious surroundings of a military live firing range in Caldicot.

The badger had fallen some 1.5 metres down a concrete pit at the Rogiet Moor Range. The pits are usually used for military personnel to fire from. Luckily, an RSPCA officer was able to reach the badger with a grasper, before returning him safe and well to the wild.

Frontline officers also raced to the rescue of a tiny, four-week-old kitten who faced certain death after getting trapped between very large boulders on breakwater at Towyn beach last May (2019). RSPCA inspectors rushed to the aid of the kitten after a member of the public heard panicked meows from an adjacent cycle path.

Other rescues in 2019 involved multiple animals at one time – including 65 sheep stranded on 80-metre high sea cliffs at Mathry in Pembrokeshire. The incident was labelled “long, difficult and the most technical undertaken by an RSPCA officer”, after the worried sheep had fled to the cliffs to avoid a dog.

The new report publishes a “potentially positive trend”, too – as the number of convictions secured against those perpetrating cruelty to animals fell for the first time in four years.

Prosecution remains a last resort for the RSPCA – and, in a busy year, some 7,197 complaints of cruelty were investigated, while thousands of welfare improvement notices were issued to advise owners on how to take care of their animals. 122 convictions were secured from magistrates where cases had to be pursued through the courts.

However, despite the fall in prosecutions, RSPCA Cymru still investigated some “truly horrific” cases. The importance of the charity’s ongoing Generation Kind work – aiming to nurture kindness and compassion among younger members of society – was underlined after two juveniles hit, clubbed and stabbed a chicken, before setting the helpless animal alight.

In a “very busy year” for the RSPCA in Wales, the charity:

  • Rescued and collected 8,294 animals

  • Found new homes for 1,977 animals

  • Secured 122 convictions in magistrates’ courts for animal welfare offences, concerning 60 offenders

  • Delivered to 484 secondary schools pupils a Great Debate briefing session

  • Issued 4,392 welfare improvement advice and notices

  • Provided 9,692 cases of welfare assistance by its network of independent branches

  • Treated 3,272 animals at its Merthyr Tydfil Veterinary Clinic

  • Distributed 272 proactive press releases, 129 statements and secured 157 broadcast features to promote animal welfare

Martyn Hubbard, superintendent of RSPCA Cymru, said:  “Nothing underlines the tireless efforts of the RSPCA’s officers in Wales more than the fact that – on average – they rescued and collected 23 animals in Wales every single day last year.

“We’re on the frontline for all animals. From a kitten rescued from certain death on a Towyn beach, to a badger trapped on a military firing range, or the dozens of sheep stranded on sea cliffs, our animal rescuers have again dealt with the most diverse situations imaginable. They offer such a lifeline to pets, farm animals and wildlife.

“But our work extends beyond rescues – and our officers once again investigated thousands of complaints, and worked with countless owners – so often driving up welfare standards without the need for further intervention. But while education, advice and support is always a priority, sometimes there is little option but to prosecute.

“Thankfully, the number of prosecutions has fallen for the first time since 2015, and are at their lowest level for three years – a potentially positive trend. However, we still dealt with some truly horrific cases – and the need for our Generation Kind programmes for younger people became even clearer after two youths were prosecuted for torturing and burning a chicken alive.

“Clearly, it was another very busy year – and, beyond our inspectorate, the RSPCA in Wales also found new homes for nearly 2,000 animals, treated thousands more, and reached record numbers of young people. These are huge strides in securing a caring Wales, where all animals are respected and treated with compassion.”

 

Much of the RSPCA’s work – including emergency rescues, rehoming and advising the public – continues during Covid-19 restrictions. An urgent fundraising appeal has been launched to help keep the RSPCA on the frontline during the crisis.

Superintendent Hubbard added: “The thousands of animals we rescued and rehomed, the hundreds of convictions we secured, and the countless animals’ lives we made better in 2019 would not have been possible without our incredible supporters.

“2020 is going to be a very different year to 2019 – but the tireless work of the RSPCA is still needed on the frontline more than ever. The launch of our Annual Summary is a timely reminder about the quantity of animal welfare work and rescues we still need to complete during this ongoing coronavirus crisis.

“As a charity, our very existence is down to the generosity of our supporters. But we need the public’s help more than ever – as animal cruelty has not stopped for coronavirus. With your urgent support at this most challenging time, neither will we.”

Many owners are concerned about caring for their pets amid the coronavirus – or Covid-19 – outbreak. There’s lots of advice and help on our website.  There is also material on the Welsh Government website, including links to guidance produced by the Animal Welfare Network for Wales, concerning the rehoming of animals, and operation of animal-related businesses.

To help the RSPCA keep rescuing animals like these and keep our animal hospitals and centres running for emergency treatment and round the clock care through these unprecedented times, please donate whatever you can spare at www.rspca.org.uk/covid.