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Vulnerable animals in need of rescue as floodwaters rise

An RSPCA rescue worker holds a rabbit in a flooded field in Windsor, Berkshire Photo: RSPCA

The RSPCA has been making door-to-door visits to check on pets in the recent floods and have rescued more than 200 animals since the start of the year.

Pets rescued by the charity include rabbits and dogs but also livestock like horses.

The charity warns that there is a particular threat of cats being lifted into the air by strong winds, and of dogs being swept away in fast-moving water.

RSPCA rescue workers in Wraysbury, Berkshire Credit: Twitter/@TVP_Windsor

The RSPCA says it has received more than 1,500 flood-related phone calls since the beginning of the year, and has provided support for more than 5,500 animals across England and Wales.

Rosie Russon, from the charity's water rescue team, was deployed to the flooded village of Wraysbury in Berkshire yesterday:

The team have been going door to door offering help and advice – from pet owners concerned about how to protect their animals to elderly people who needed assistance evacuating their homes to a place of safety.

– Rosie Russon, rspca rescue worker
An RSPCA flood rescue team at work in Dorset Credit: RSPCA

There is also mounting concern for livestock such as horses, which can become stranded in flooded fields where they are unable to reach the grass to eat.

RSPCA workers were monitoring almost 20 horses in Dorset last week, carrying food out to their flooded field each day.

An RSPCA worker leads a horse to safety Credit: RSPCA

When the water did not recede, they decided to evacuate the horses by shepherding them across the flooded fields and into a corral.

“The horses did not want to go through the deeper waters and we had to urge them on," RSPCA Inspector Jason Finch said.

Most of the water was two feet deep but in some places the horses had to swim for five or six metres.

An RSPCA flood rescue team directs horses into a corral in Dorset Credit: RSPCA

RSPCA companion animal scientist Alice Potter had the following advice for pet owners in the extreme weather:

Extreme weather like we’ve been seeing can spell trouble for animals as well as humans. We urge pet owners to keep an eye on the weather forecast in their area and plan ahead to make sure their animals are safe.

It might be necessary to keep cats inside if the winds become very extreme. People should remember to make sure they have everything they need, especially places to hide (and a litter tray if they don’t usually have one).

Dog owners should plan walks so that the extreme weather can be avoided, and dogs should be accompanied at all times. Two or three shorter walks may be a better option to avoid being out in the wet weather for a long period of time.

– Alice Potter, rspca

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