COVID-19: RSPCA takes more than 3,000 calls over Christmas as charity feels strain of 'busy year'

·2-min read

More than 3,000 calls were made to the RSPCA between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day as the charity copes with increased demand during the ongoing pandemic.

The latest figures are a slight drop compared to last year (23%), but officers have felt the strain during the busy period amid the COVID-19 crisis, taking 44,748 calls between 1 and 27 December.

Herchy Boal is an RSPCA inspector based in the West Midlands.

On a cold December morning, she waits for the police to arrive to let her into the home of a man who has passed away the day before.

She has been contacted because there's a cat inside the house. She calls the man's daughter to ask for more details about the animal and to gain permission to take it to a shelter and rehome it.

The man's daughter explains that because she lives over a hundred miles away, she hasn't been able to visit to collect the cat. She says his name is Tiger and agrees that Ms Boal should find a new home for him.

Sadly, this kind of call out isn't unusual for RSPCA.

"We've actually seen a real rise in those calls since the whole of this year with COVID," says Ms Boal.

"We've done a lot of work with situations like this where people have either gone into hospital or they've passed away and there isn't any family or next of kin.

"The lockdown has had a real effect on that with people not being able to travel, or go to each other's houses or do anything."

Tiger is taken to an RSPCA shelter in Birmingham, checked by a vet and placed in a cattery.

Charlotte Collier who works in the cattery says it's been a busy year, with many people having to give up pets due to health or financial problems.

And she doesn't think it's getting any easier for people.

"I think for people financially, with the crunch of Christmas, I think next year is going to be the hardest," she says.

There are 50 dogs at the centre. Zeena was rescued from a home where she wasn't being looked after properly.

Dog handler Keeran Cadman hopes she'll find a new owner soon but it hasn't been easy this year.

"Obviously with everything going on we haven't been rehoming as many as we normally would," he says.

Snuggled up asleep in a corner of the cattery are kittens Cinnamon and Eggnog, named because of the festive season they were born into.

They, like all the other animals at the shelter, can only wait until someone decides to offer them a home.