RSPCA animal rescuers in Wales will continue to respond to emergencies and cruelty calls during the upcoming Christmas and New Year lockdown.

As Wales enters the new ‘alert level four’ restrictions – the animal welfare charity will continue to deal with emergency calls made to their helpline. RSPCA frontline rescuers – along with staff who work in animal centres/clinics – are classed as critical (key) workers.

The RSPCA has already been bracing itself for a busy festive period – as last Christmas Day, across England and Wales, the RSPCA received more than 950 calls, the highest number since 2013. It also received 63,000 calls throughout December, or 2,000 a day, making it the busiest Christmas period for at least four years.

In Wales, the charity dealt with 4,171 incidents across the winter period (Dec, Jan, Feb) and 1,410 in December alone. In recent years, RSPCA Cymru has tended to countless animals in need of urgent help over Christmas – including a sheep stuck on a bridge – which was rescued thanks to sunflower oil – last Boxing Day in Merthyr Tydfil and a fox caught fencing in Swansea on 30 December.

Deputy chief inspector for North Wales Phil Lewis – who has worked many Christmas Days over his long RSPCA career – said: “I along with many colleagues across Wales will be working as usual over this festive period – rescuing, caring and rehabilitating those animals who need us the most.

“Christmas is looking very different this year – but we want to reassure people we are out there on the road responding to any animal emergencies while ensuring the highest standards of public safety. You never quite know what to expect on Christmas Day – but with a lockdown now in place – we may see more calls from those who are out and about walking or exercising near their homes.

“We are also bracing ourselves for a rise in abandoned and neglected animals needing our help and would urge anyone who is struggling to seek help.”

The new lockdown restrictions imposed in Wales will once again impact RSPCA animal centres in Newport, and Bryn-Y-Maen in Upper Colwyn Bay as the two centres will have to close to the public with no appointments permitted. They however will continue to provide care for the animals based at the sites and take in animals from frontline rescuers. RSPCA Llys Nini Animal Centre in Swansea has also closed to the public under the restrictions.

‘Remote’ rehoming can still be undertaken within Wales through a virtual process; with pets delivered to new owners in a Covid-compliant manner by RSPCA staff. However, rehoming with cross-border travel to England is not permitted. If you are due to rehome an animal from a centre – please get in touch with staff for guidance.

Charity shops – which are run by RSPCA branches across Wales – have closed along with other non-essential retail.

The lockdown also means that pet owners should only seek treatment for animals if it is urgent. At RSPCA Merthyr Tydfil Veterinary Clinic they will only be providing emergency treatment to clients. The clinic is open every day apart from weekends and bank holidays.

As for animal owners – much like previous guidance – people can walk their dogs with the Welsh Government reminding walkers to keep at least two metres apart from other people outside your household and they advise to keep the dog on leads for this reason. Livestock and horse owners are allowed to tend to their animals but are being asked to limit their movement outside the home or farm. The RSPCA encourages horse owners to think about buddying up with other owners – further advice can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Following Saturday’s announcement, the Animal Welfare Network for Wales – of which the RSPCA is a member – has produced new guidance to support rehoming organisations, animal-related businesses and the public during these latest coronavirus restrictions.

The lockdown in Wales has no end date at this moment – but will be reviewed every three weeks.

Many owners are concerned about caring for their pets amid the Coronavirus – or Covid-19 – outbreak. There’s lots of advice and help on the RSPCA website. If you are concerned about an animal, please call the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.
Donating just £25 could help keep our Animal Rescue Teams on the road and £50 could help feed all the rescued animals in one of our centres for a day.
To help our rescue teams reach the thousands of animals who desperately need us, visit www.rspca.org.uk/xmas and Join the Christmas Rescue #JoinTheRescue.

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*RSPCA branches are registered charities in their own right and operate across England and Wales. Find your nearest branch on our website.
*AWNW guidance is continually being discussed with the Welsh Government and other stakeholders and is subject to change