Sunderland, Hartlepool and South Tyneside Branch

RSPCA flood rescue teams save animals and people during storm


Four flood rescue teams of RSPCA specially trained officers have been out rescuing animals and people during Storm Desmond.RSPCA flood rescue team © RSPCA

Cats, dogs, rabbits and even chickens have all been rescued, mainly from residential properties across the north of England, where their owners were forced to evacuate the rising flood waters.As well as helping animals, our flood teams have also been assisting other emergency services and have so far rescued 36 people.

Among those was a semi-conscious elderly man who had to be stretchered out of a nursing home in Carlisle and transported on one of our boats, before he was taken to hospital.

It’s extremely difficult getting to where we need to be

The RSPCA received calls about 77 flooding incidents since Friday, 4 December, with 20 flood trained officers travelling from across England and Wales to join their colleagues in Cumbria and Northumberland to assist the ongoing rescue operation.

So far RSPCA flood rescue teams have rescued eight dogs, seven cats, four rabbits and three chickens in the aftermath of storm Desmond.

Inspector Ben Strangwood, who has coordinated our flood response, said:

It’s been a huge challenge as the flooding is so widespread across a large geographical area.

Although the water levels are receding in some areas, elsewhere the water levels are expected to remain quite high which is leaving many roads inaccessible. It’s extremely difficult to get around to where we need to be.

We’ve received a lot of calls, mainly to help people who’ve had to leave their animals when they’ve evacuated their homes. However, we’ve also had to contend with extremely dangerous conditions and fast flowing water.

It’s good to be able to make a difference

Inspector Stangwood said we’re likely to have flood rescue teams working in the north of England throughout the rest of the week. He added:

“We’ve been pitching in and helping the other agencies, including helping to move people to safety.

“It’s good to be able to put our training to use and be able to make a difference to those animals and people in need our help.”

Owners of animals in areas at risk of flooding are advised to move them to higher ground or other areas of safety.

Members of the public are urged never to put their own or another person’s life in danger to attempt an animal rescue.

Anyone who wishes to report an animal emergency can call us on 0300 1234 999.

Read more of our flood advice.

We need your support

We can only carry out rescues and assist during the floods thanks to your help