RSPCA answers almost one million calls since the start of lockdown - including an owl stuck in an extractor fan at North Yorkshire hotel

The RSPCA has answered almost one million calls since the start of lockdown - exactly one year ago today.

An owl ended up in a spot of bother after getting stuck in an extractor fan in a disused hotel kitchen in North Yorkshire on January 18, this year.

The charity has had to adapt the way it works to comply with lockdown rules and social distancing but has continued to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome animals during the pandemic.

Chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “The last year has been incredibly difficult for individuals, for families, for businesses, for charities and for animals. But I’m incredibly proud of the work the RSPCA has managed to do during this challenging year.

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"We’ve had to adapt how we work, change our procedures, review our practices, and all while we continue our vital everyday work rescuing, rehabilitating, rehoming and releasing animals, and investigating animal cruelty.”

A gull rescued by the RSPCA.

Since March 23, last year, the RSPCA has received 958,352 calls to its hotline, dealt with 253,714 urgent incidents and responded to 14,532 incidents of abandoned animals.

The charity has also taken 23,228 animals into care at its national centres, hospitals and private boarding partners - including 12,977 wild animals, 4,537 cats, 1,887 dogs, 505 rabbits, and 548 horses.

It has also secured 498 convictions and convicted 246 defendants, despite huge court delays due to lockdown.

To mark the momentous milestone, the RSPCA has released a top 10 list of its lockdown, which includes that of an owl which got stuck in an extractor fan in a disused hotel kitchen in North Yorkshire on January 18, this year.

Also making the top 10 are a badger which was rescued after getting its bottom stuck in a gate in Essex; a swan which crash-landed through a woman's bathroom window in Nottinghamshire and a seal that dragged himself into a treadmill warehouse in Wales.

The RSPCA also celebrated a number of victories during lockdown including the Agriculture Bill which received Royal Assent in November 2020 meaning farmers will receive payments for higher welfare standards, and statutory footing of the Trade and Agriculture Commission, ensuring independent animal welfare advice is central to future trade policies.

The RSPCA’s campaigns and public affairs teams also celebrated the Government’s commitments to implement a ban on the private keeping of primates and compulsory microchipping of cats. After years of lobbying, the UK and Welsh governments proposed ending live animal exports for slaughter, the use of wild animals in circuses was banned in Wales, and a ban on third-party sales of puppies and kittens came into force in England in April 2020.

Mr Sherwood said: “Over the past 12 months we’ve demonstrated our commitment to animals and shown that, despite the hardships we face, we will always be there for the animals who need us. But the pandemic has hit us hard; we’ve had to change how we work, suspend door-to-door fundraising and cancel fundraising events.

“The charity sector has been hit hard by the pandemic so we’re asking the public to get behind us, to donate, and to help us continue our vital work; together we can make this a better world for animals.”

Top 10 lockdown rescues

A badger was rescued after getting his bum stuck in a gate in Essex on 21 February 2021;

Two badgers needed help after getting trapped on a ladder in a canal in Wales on 5 February 2021;

An owl ended up in a spot of bother after getting stuck in an extractor fan in a disused hotel kitchen in North Yorkshire on 18 January 2021;

A woman had a fright when a swan crash-landed through her bathroom window in Nottinghamshire on 11 January 2021;

A seal needed rescuing after dragging himself into a treadmill warehouse in Wales on 11 December;

A gas meter reader had a shock when he found a corn snake wrapped around the pipes in a gas box in Hampshire on 25 November 2020;

Pudding the cockapoo puppy had to be cut free after getting wedged under a reclining chair in Hampshire on 27 October 2020;

A squirrel got stuck in the back of a fridge in London on 30 September 2020;

A newborn calf’s life was saved after he was spotted drowning in a muddy bog in Greater Manchester on 31 May 2020;

A thirsty fox cub got his head stuck in a watering can in Kent on 14 April 2020 and needed a helping hand.