RSPCA reveals its 10 most heart-warming rescues of the year

Animal rescues Credit: RSPCA

A cliffside sheep rescue, a travelling cat and puppies saved from being thrown away with the rubbish are among the RSPCA's favourite animal rescues of the year, the charity has revealed.

The charity said its emergency 24-hour cruelty line dealt with more than a million calls in the first 11 months of the year.

Many led to cruelty or neglect investigations - but some sparked dramatic animal rescue operations.

  • Foal in a hole

This skewbald filly was found stuck in a hole in a field when she was less than one week old.

Anna was found stuck in a hole, aged less than a week old Credit: RSPCA

RSPCA inspectors believe the owner moved her mother without realising she had been born.

She was paired with another orphaned foal to be hand-reared by welfare staff, who named them after Frozen princesses Anna and Elsa.

Anna was hand-reared by the RSPCA Credit: RSPCA

They say they hope to find her a new home in 2016.

  • Recliner jam

A dog was found stuck with her feet in the air after getting wedged in her owner's electric reclining armchair.

Cagney was stuck in the electric armchair for an hour Credit: RSPCA

Cagney - a seven-year-old female Lhasa Apso - was stuck for an hour at the house in Swinton, Salford, with only her legs visible before firefighters and animal rescuers were able to cut her free.

  • Abseiling to ewe

When a sheep was spotted stranded part-way down the side of a sea cliff in Abersoch, Wales, nobody was quite sure how to reach her.

But inspectors Andy Broadbent and Mike Pugh came to the rescue - abseiling up to 30 metres down the cliff face to reach the trapped ewe.

Hungry and frightened, it iis thought she had been there for around two weeks before she was caught and hoisted back to safety, to be returned to her farmer.

  • Puppy litter

They were so young, some of them still had their umbilical cords attached - but someone decided to dump these seven adorable mastiff-cross puppies in a litter bin.

The mastiff-cross puppies were found dumped in a rubbish bin Credit: RSPCA

Fortunately, their tiny cries were heard by children in Queensferry, Deeside, and inspectors were able to get to them in time.

Brenda, Roxy (now renamed Lady), Willow, Jonny (now known as Kai), Tinker (nicknamed Lula Tink), Spud, and Snippet (now called Buddy) were hand-reared and none of them suffered any long-term harm from their ordeal.

All seven have all now been found permanent homes with loving families, and are said to be doing well.

  • Ferret in a fence

Believed to be a stray, this ferret managed to get himself trapped in a fence - not once, but twice.

Whoops the ferret, who got stuck in a metal fence twice Credit: RSPCA

Later named Whoops by amused welfare workers, the ferret was found in Ossett, West Yorkshire, in November. The RSPCA and firefighters attended but soon realised they would not be able to cut him free at the scene without hurting him.

Fortunately, a vet was able to help and Whoops was taken in to be rehomed.

  • Long-distance feline

When Ian Southworth was checking news website while on holiday in Dubai, the last thing he expected to see was a familiar face.

But as he browsed the latest headlines, his beloved kitty Bubbles suddenly stared back at him.

Bubbles the cat was found under the bonnet of a car Credit: RSPCA

It turned out Bubbles had decided to go on an adventure from his home in Cheshire, curling up on a stranger's engine.

Luckily, he survived the 30-minute ride from Manchester Airport to Stockport - meaning a surprise for the driver when she arrived home.

As Bubbles was not microchipped, he may never have seen his owner again had he not been checking the news from abroad.

  • Cow trap

A heifer somehow got her head stuck between two trees on a steep bank in Alfreton, Derbyshire, in June.

As well as the difficult landscape, she was also being guarded by four large, uncastrated Limousin bulls, and was very weak and dehydrated.

The RSPCA called firefighters in to fire jets of water at the angry bulls to keep them away as they worked to rescue the stricken bovine.

  • Fox in a fix

A not-so-cunning fox managed to get his head stuck between two fence panels outside a home in South Shields, Tyneside, in July.

The fox was trapped between two fence panels Credit: RSPCA

A member of the public reported it to the RSPCA, and he was so stuck and unmoving that inspectors initially thought he might be dead.

After releasing him, however, it was clear he was not injured and was released in a nearby field.

  • Not-so-slippery snake

A corn snake escaped its vivarium and slithered its way into a nearby home in October - but unfortunately got stuck fast to a glue trap

The snake was stuck to a glue trap Credit: RSPCA

The trap had been laid to catch mice at the house in South Norwood, London, but caught the unexpected visitor instead.

He had to be taken to Putney Animal Hospital to be freed without hurting his skin.

The RSPCA said it had "serious concerns" about the use of glue traps, which it said cause "a great deal of suffering" as they leave the animals to die a long, slow death.

  • Hedgehog-gate

Another creature which seemed to forget how big he was, this beefy hedgehog underestimated his girth and got trapped trying to go through the bars of a gate.

The hedgehog got stuck in a gate Credit: RSPCA

A passer-by spotted the prickly porker's pickle and reported it to the RSPCA.

Specialist equipment had to be brought in to widen the bars of the gate to free him, and after a night in care to make sure he was not badly hurt, he was released into the wild the next day.