RSPCA issues flood advice after series of West Country animal rescues

RSPCA animal rescue
RSPCA water rescue teams during a horse rescue Credit: RSPCA

The RSPCA is urging animal owners to keep pets, livestock and wildlife safe after widespread flooding following the latest winter storm.

A Met Office yellow warning of rain has been issued for the whole of the South West of England until midnight on Saturday 4 November. 

The Met Office says heavy rain or showers falling on already saturated ground may cause some disruption, particularly to travel. 

In response, the RSPCA is calling on people to take action to ensure the welfare of animals as rising water levels take a toll on the natural habitats of wildfowl and other wildlife.

The charity says outdoor animals are particularly at risk from flooding and waterlogged fields.

RSPCA officers have been called to dozens of incidents in the last 24 hours, including helping horses trapped in a field in Dorset where the water level had submerged the animals to chest height.

Elsewhere, officers also rescued two pigs trapped in a flooded allotment in Norfolk, and four horses who were backed into a corner in a flooded field in Hampshire.

An RSPCA water rescue team Credit: RSPCA

RSPCA inspectorate commissioner Dermot Murphy said: “In areas affected by flooding owners should be looking to bring small animals inside and move them upstairs, while livestock should be taken up to higher ground with enough supplies for their needs.''

“Wild animals can also struggle in stormy weather but people can help them too. For example, they can leave some extra food out for hungry birds above ground level and even provide shelter for ground-nesting birds.”

Animal owners are advised to keep an eye on local forecasts. In areas impacted by flooding, they should:

  • Move livestock to high ground and keep a supply of food and water in case of evacuation.

  • Bring small pets inside and move bedding and food to a dry spot.

  • Ensure cats have constant access to a warm indoor area and keep dogs inside and if they are out, away from rising waters in lakes and rivers.

  • If there is a need to evacuate a property then take pet food, bowls, bedding and any necessary pet medication.

  • Transport small pets in suitable carriers and dogs on sturdy leashes.

  • If animals have to be left behind in a property keep them upstairs room with plenty of food and water and leave notices on doors.

  • Ensure there are contact numbers for emergencies.

If the worst does happen and if flooding does leave animals in danger, members of the public should be careful not to take risks with their own safety by attempting animal rescues.

The RSPCA’s trained officers are equipped to deal with flood-stricken animals and work as part of Defra’s National Flood Response to help rescue stranded animals. 

If you do see an animal that looks like it is in danger, take a note of the location, the time and date and consult the RSPCA’s website for emergency advice or call the emergency line 0300 1234 999.

 For flooding advice and up-to-date warnings ring Floodline on 0345 988 1188.