In 2022, the charity’s officers were called to thousands of incidents, including many in which birds, wildlife, pets and farm animals have found themselves in a sticky situation.
Dermot Murphy, RSPCA Inspectorate Commissioner from the animal charity’s frontline rescuers, said: “With our teams out rescuing animals from danger and suffering 365 days a year, we are often their only hope. It’s an honour to be able to lend a hand to animals in desperate need and we hope people enjoy seeing some of the weird and wonderful places animals have found themselves in need of our help.
“This winter we’re asking people to show their support by joining the rescue to help us raise funds to make sure we can continue to be there for animals in need.”
Here we round up our top rescues of the year in the Midlands:
- Sheep in a tangle
A ewe was feeling a little sheepish after getting tangled in a rose bush. A passerby contacted the RSPCA after his dog alerted him to the sheep struggling in the field in Grantham, Lincolnshire, on 25 March. Inspector Deborah Scotcher went to check the sheep and found her tangled in the thorns. She said: “The poor ewe had the thorns completely twisted in her wool and was wrapped up in the bush. We tried to free her but struggled so we tracked down the farmer who came to help us untangle her. He was very grateful for our help; as was she!”
- Hop to it!
A toad who had hopped into a difficult predicament needed a helping hand. The critter had become trapped between two decking boards in Willenhall, West Midlands, on 2 August. Rescuer Ash Moore said: “The poor toad was very distressed. He had become wedged in between two pieces of decking with most of his body squeezed through the gap and his legs trapped on the other side.” Ash was able to use some washing-up liquid to make the toad slippery and a screwdriver to widen the gap before popping him free and getting him checked by vets before being released.
Homeowners in Birmingham, West Midlands, had a surprise when they went to investigate a noise and found a cat struggling to give birth in the guttering above their conservatory. They called the RSPCA and fire services for help, on 12 April. RSPCA Inspector Adam Bailey said: “The mum cat had decided to give birth to her five kittens in the conservatory guttering of the property and with heavy rain due to set in we knew we had to get to them fast!” Adam got onto the roof and managed to catch the mum and bring her and all of her kittens to safety. The cat – named Storm – was microchipped but rescuers couldn’t reach her owners so she was taken in by the charity along with her new babies.
- Muddy hell!
An RSPCA rescuer found himself up to his neck in mud to rescue a lamb who was trapped down a hole in the Peak District near Glossop, Derbyshire. Inspector Ryan King was called to the B-29 crash site off Snake Pass on 14 May by walkers who heard the lamb bleating. He trekked several miles across the moorland to reach the lamb who was stuck in mud at the bottom of a 6ft-deep hole. He cleaned her in a nearby stream and checked her over before releasing her to the flock and covering up the hole with branches to avoid any future mishaps. Ryan also needed a clean-up after the messy rescue mission! He said: “The hole was quite small and I could just about stand up in it. The lamb was matted in soil, but she was okay. After cleaning her up in running water I released her near some other sheep.”
A fox ended up in a fix when he got his head stuck in a car wheel. Animal rescue officer Ash Moore and trainee Baljit Dharmia were called to help the fox – found in Selly Oak, Birmingham, West Midlands – on 24 May. As the cub became more distressed the rescuers called for help from the fire teams who used special equipment to cut him free. He was taken to a nearby wildlife hospital to be monitored before he could be released back into the wild.
- ‘Owl you doing?’
A barn owl needed help after getting tangled by his jesses on a television aerial. RSPCA rescuer Natalie Perehovsky was called to Bentilee, Staffordshire, on 29 June after a resident spotted the stricken bird dangling from the aerial on the roof of the house. Natalie asked the fire service for help and they scaled an aerial ladder platform to cut the owl free and confine him to check him over. She said: “Thankfully an examination at a nearby veterinary practice found that both of his legs seemed fine and there were no breaks; he was just a little bit sore and weak from his unpleasant ordeal and his worried owner was very relieved to be reunited with him.” The owl had been missing for three days.
- Where you bin?
A Staffordshire man ‘jumped and screamed’ when he found a snake in his wheelie bin! Aclas Ighodaro came face-to-face with the corn snake when he went to put the rubbish out at his home in Stoke-on-Trent on 7 July. He called the police who told him to contact the RSPCA and inspector Dawn Burrell attended to collect the snake. Aclas said: “I’ve only ever seen snakes on television, never in real life, so when I lifted the lid and saw his body crawling through a hole in the bag, I jumped and screamed and ran! I didn’t know what I was going to do as it was my rubbish collection the next day, but I didn’t want to open up the bin again, so I’m really grateful that Dawn came to help me out.” The snake was taken to a local vet and then into care. Dawn said: “It’s a bit of a mystery as to how the snake got into the wheelie bin as he said he put a rubbish bag in it earlier in the day and the reptile definitely wasn’t there then.”
- Catch the pigeon! MIDS
The RSPCA came to the rescue of two pigeons who got stuck inside a large pipe. Workers were alerted to their plight after hearing them making noise inside the piping system in Nottingham. Inspector Keith Ellis went to their rescue on 22 August and found where the birds had got in, followed the pipe and located them around 12ft inside – they’d gone through three turns before getting stuck. He removed a section of pipe, reached inside and pulled two pigeons free! He said: “The pipe was metal and the birds had moved down it – but it was impossible for them to get back up as they couldn’t climb up or fly out. Thankfully it was quite easy to reach them and once I gave them a quick check over – I released them back to the wild.”
- That’s bananas!
A Hispaniolan common tree frog has made a 4,300-mile journey across the Atlantic from its home in the Dominican Republic in a bunch of bananas. Iain Holloway and his family made the surprise discovery when they were unpacking their food shopping after a delivery at their home in Tamworth, Staffordshire. The tiny 1.5-inch (3.8cm) amphibian, who is now in the care of the RSPCA, was in good condition, despite being inside the bag of bananas which would have been wrapped up for some time. Mr Holloway said: “We were unpacking the shopping in the kitchen and my wife turned to me and said ‘look there’s a frog in the bananas’ and I said ‘sorry, there’s a what in the bananas?’.” Rescuer Jonny Wood, who is specially trained to deal with exotics, collected the frog on 24 September.
- In at the deep end
A fox miraculously escaped injury after plunging 8ft into an empty water storage tank near Telford, Shropshire, prompting an RSPCA rescue. A Severn Trent sewage treatment works employee spotted the fox on 18 October standing in 3ins of rain water and called the charity for help. A pallet was lowered in for the fox to stand on but Inspector Claire Davey came to her rescue, accessing the tank through an access door and grabbing the vixen with a grasper. She was taken to a local wildlife centre for rehab where staff discovered she was a cub they’d previously rescued and released! She was released back into the wild a few days later.
The animal welfare charity is asking people to show their support for animals in need by joining the rescue this winter. For more information, see the RSPCA website