Animals do the funniest things. But sometimes they can get themselves in a bit of a pickle and need a helping hand to set them free.
That’s where the RSPCA comes in. The animal welfare charity’s dedicated officers and inspectors spend their days rescuing pets from cruelty, helping sick and injured animals, and freeing both domestic and wild critters from rather embarrassing situations!
Here are some of the most random (and ridiculous!) rescues of the past 12 months:
1. Bike cat-astophe!
A rather embarrassed puss had to be helped after getting wedged in the frame of a bicycle! RSPCA animal collection officer Prisca Giddens was called by the Met Police who found him stuck in the frame of the mountain bike in Greenford, London, on 23 February. Prisca said: “A delivery driver had called police after spotting the puss in a bit of a pickle! The bike was chained up outside a house but the frame was upside down, hanging over a balcony. The cat had his head and front legs stuck on one side of the bike.” Luckily, the puss was freed and hadn’t suffered any injuries so was released back onto the streets. At least on this occasion, curiosity didn’t kill the cat...
RSPCA inspector Georgia McCormick was called in to help after a fox found herself in a tight spot - with her head trapped between two tombstones! A worried member of the public came across the stricken animal on 29 June in the graveyard of St Mary Magdalene Church, in Vicarage Road, Leamington Spa. Georgia said: “I managed to carefully free him and check him over - thankfully he wasn’t injured and so he was released back into the wild.”
A little starling was a little startled after getting stuck in a manhole cover! A man spotted the wild bird in a flap and called the RSPCA. Animal welfare officer Sam Jopson went along to the stricken bird, in Carlisle, Cumbria, to free her. “I think it’s safe to say this startled starling found herself in a hole lot of trouble after flying up from the drains below and getting her head stuck in a gap in the metal cover,” she said. “Or perhaps she was playing a little game of peck-a-boo when she got her head stuck? She had literally popped her head above the parapet to call for help!” Luckily, with the help of some colleagues, she managed to free the bird and release her. You could say it was a flappy ending! (Video available…)
4. What you bin doing?
A little kitten who got his head stuck in a drainage hole at the bottom of a communal waste bin had to be rescued by the RSPCA and West Midlands Fire service. A passerby heard the tiny cat meowing from the bin in Walsall and called the RSPCA. Animal collection officer Cara Gibbon attended but had to call in back-up from a local fire crew to cut him free and bend the metal away. The little kitten - named Dusty - was taken in by a local animal centre. He wheelie should have been more careful!
5. Bat’s crazy!
Animals can get themselves stuck in the strangest of places - none more so that a tiny bat pup who had to be rescued from a house in Chislehurst, Kent, after getting stuck in a PLUG HOLE! RSPCA animal collection officer Kirstie Gillard was called in to help on 2 July after the homeowner spotted the rather bedraggled bat - and mistook it for a rat! The tiny bat - half the size of Kirstie’s thumb - was hanging from the grid over the plug. “We think he must have flown in through the window,” she explained. She pulled the sodden little critter free and made him some mini hot water bottles using disposable gloves before taking him to the Wildlife Aid Foundation wildlife hospital, in Surrey, before being released a few days later.
6. What a prickle
A hefty hedgehog needed a helping hand from the RSPCA after getting wedged in a metal gate! Inspector Deborah Pert was called out in the early hours of the morning on 17 May to find the porker in a prickle - stuck fast in the gate in Canterbury. “He was a little wide around the waist to make it through and got himself wedged!” she explained. “Luckily, I was able to carefully wriggle him free, although it did take some time! I kept stroking his spines to encourage him to uncurl and then angled his body to the side so he would fit through easier.” Who ate all the flies, I wonder?! Thankfully, the little hog wasn’t injured so Deborah released him back into the night.
7. Oh deer!
A young muntjac deer had a fright after getting stuck under a shed in a garden in Stanborough Green, Hertfordshire, on 24 May. RSPCA animal collection officer Kate Wright rushed to his rescue. She covered his head with a towel to calm him down and gently loosened him from under the wooden panels. She said: “I’ve rescued a few deer in my time so I know how stressed these wild animals get when they become stuck like this. It looks like when he tried to jump the fence on his way out of the garden he didn’t quite make it, and tumbled backwards, falling down the narrow gap between the shed and fence. He was on his back with his side wedged under the shed, calling very loudly in distress.” Thankfully, the male deer wasn’t injured so after a quick check over was released nearby.
It’s not very often a fox gets outfoxed - but for one tiny cub, a metal wire fence ended up being too much of a challenge for him. RSPCA animal welfare officer Carl Hone was called to Tadworth Primary School, in Surrey, on 12 April by a teacher running a holiday club, who found the cub with his head stuck in the wire fence. The cub, only around three or four-weeks-old, couldn’t free himself so Carl cut through the fencing with wire clippers. Thankfully, the little cub wasn’t injured, so Carl released him there and then so he could make his own way back to his den and family.
Terrier Poppy thought she was free to have some fun after escaping from her garden in Bexleyheath, Kent, on 27 July. But fun and frolics soon turned into fear when the five-year-old got stuck in a metal fence in Danson Park. Members of the public found the stricken pooch and called in the RSPCA and Kent Fire & Rescue Service to free her. Animal collection officer Kirstie Gillard said: “I don’t know how she did it, there was no give in those bars!” After freeing Poppy they took her to a local vet for a check-up and she was soon reunited with her relieved owners. Julia Clifford said: “It was actually a Godsend that she got stuck in that fence because it could well have saved her life. I was so relieved that she was home, safe and sound, and hadn’t run into the road or been hit by a car.”
An RSPCA officer was called to a property in Stanley Close, Redditch, on 3 August after a concerned member of the public found a small hedgehog stuck in a fruit bowl! The stricken creature had got himself wedged between decorative wires on the bowl and the officer took him to Redditch Fire Station where a crew safely helped free him. Thankfully, he wasn’t injured but, as he was so small, he was transferred to a wildlife centre nearby for rehabilitation. Once he is bigger and stronger he’ll be released back into the wild - and hopefully won’t find himself stuck in a fruit bowl again!
11. As cunning as a… fence!?
The RSPCA and Kent Fire & Rescue Service worked as a team to save a fox who found himself trapped by his neck between a wall and a fence. RSPCA Inspector Rosemary Leach rushed to Dartford, in Kent, on 28 July to try to free the wild animal - who got trapped after trying to jump through the gap - but had to call for help as he was struggling to breathe. They managed to free him and took him to South Essex Wildlife Hospital for treatment to wounds on his foot where he’d been scrambling to get out. “Thankfully, after a couple of days of monitoring he was able to be released back to the wild on 1 August,” inspector Leach said.
12. Frog in a bog!
An Ulverston resident, in Cumbria, had a shock when he discovered a common frog in his loo! RSPCA inspector Chris Towler attended on 30 August after the amphibian thwarted the homeowner’s attempts to capture him. He said: “It’s the first time I’ve been called out to deal with a frog in a bog! When the householder tried to catch and remove the little amphibian from his toilet, he found this slippery customer wasn’t keen to leave his porcelain home, so he called us for help. Wearing a pair of gloves - though not a frogman’s suit - after a few attempts, I managed to gently catch the frog in a container. I checked him over and released him at a nearby canal.”
13. Hay - that’s embarrassing!
RSPCA animal collection officer Nicky Sullivan rushed to a farmer’s field in Hinderclay near Diss, Norfolk, after calls from the fire and rescue service requesting help to rescue a stricken dog. When she arrived at the scene on 28 October, she discovered the dog had fallen into a large stack of hay bales and become wedged between them. She said: “The poor dog had fallen approximately 3m into the hay but we weren’t able to reach. Thankfully, the local farmer was able to move some of the bales with a forklift and the dog eventually came out himself - with his tail between his legs, unsurprisingly! Thankfully, he wasn’t injured so he was able to go home with his very worried owners who were extremely relieved to have him back. Let’s hope he stays out of trouble!”
14. Stuck between a rock and a hard place
RSPCA officers had a head-scratcher on their hands when they were called in to rescue a seal pup who got trapped between heavy rocks and boulders in Port Talbot, Wales. Access was extremely difficult and meant discussions with engineering specialists and a joint operation on 7 November between RSPCA Cymru officers, Associated British Ports, Sea-Lift Diving, British Divers’ Marine Life Rescue, RNLI and Neath Port Talbot Council. Boulders weighing in excess of one tonne had to be moved to secure access to the trapped seal. The seal, named Miracle by bystanders, was freed and taken to an RSPCA wildlife centre in Somerset for rehabilitation. Inspector Nic de Celis said: “Without doubt, this was the most technical and complex rescue I have dealt with as an RSPCA inspector. This poor seal pup was trapped amid rocks and boulders, and access to the animal was exceptionally difficult. A one-tonne boulder literally had to be moved out of the way, before we safely got hold of the seal and did a thorough welfare assessment. All at RSPCA Cymru are over the moon that we were able to save the seal - in what was a bit of a miracle for the seal known as Miracle!
A dog who escaped out of a window after being spooked by fireworks needed a little help - after getting trapped in a 6in gap between a conservatory and brick wall. The RSPCA, Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service and a vet rushed to the house in Watford to try to free poor Taba. Three hours later and with fireworks going off around them, Taba was safely freed using ropes to pull her out. Inspector Rachel Smith said: “Taba was very lucky to have been found in the first place. The lady who called us only found Taba stuck down the side of her conservatory after her cats started to act strangely in the garden. Taba ran into the gap head-first, possibly because she was spooked by fireworks, but then she got completely wedged. She barely had room to breathe.” Amazingly, apart from sore paws, she didn’t sustain any serious injuries following her ordeal. She was microchipped so was promptly returned to her very relieved owner who’d been looking for her since the night before. She’d escaped from the window of a first floor room while her owners were out the evening before, climbed along a glass roof conservatory and then taken herself off for a walk!
16. VIP (Very Important Pussycat!)
A furry feline decided she was one special VIP - a very important pussycat - after she was discovered in a Wrexham nightclub, in Wales! Staff at Atik nightclub were surprised when they found the young cat hiding under the seats in a VIP area. Staff spent a few days trying to catch the cat - nicknamed Disco - before calling in RSPCA Cymru inspector Kia Thomas for help. She said: “She was very timid but once animal collection officer Ann Lloyd Williams placed a trap down she was caught safely that evening. Disco must have been enjoying her stay in the VIP area! A member of staff kindly took Disco home for the night and we collected her first thing the next morning. We took her to the vets where she was checked over and she is healthy and wasn’t injured. She might have become lost and her owners could be frantically looking for her or she could have been a stray.”
17. Wood ewe baa-leaf it?
An RSPCA officer was called to a field in Hawkshaw, Greater Manchester, to help a rather sheepish character. Animal collection officer was called to help the ewe on 18 December after two girls found her with her head stuck in a tree trunk! “I have never quite seen anything like it,” Kim said. “I must admit, I was left scratching my head wondering why on earth this ewe put her head inside the tree trunk in the first place! She was really distressed and was trying desperately to free herself. Goodness knows how long she’d been trapped like that. Thankfully, I was able to calm her down and manoeuvre her so I could gently free her from the tree. She wasn’t injured and, unsurprisingly, seemed to be feeling a little sheepish so ran off back to join her flock. This girl had definitely been baaaaa-king up the wrong tree!”
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