Four flood rescue teams of specially trained RSPCA officers have been out rescuing animals and people during Storm Desmond.
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, the RSPCA’s 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 an RSPCA boat, before he was taken to hospital.
The RSPCA has received calls about 77 flooding incidents since Friday (4.12.15) 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.
Inspector Ben Strangwood, who has coordinated the RSPCA’s flood response, said: “It has 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 is extremely difficult to get around to where we need to be.
“We have received a lot of calls, mainly to help people who have had to leave their animals when they have evacuated their homes. However, we have also had to contend with extremely dangerous conditions and fast flowing water.”
Inspector Stangwood said the RSPCA was likely to have flood rescue teams working in the north of England throughout the rest of the week.
“We have been pitching in and helping the other agencies, including helping to move people to safety.
“It is 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,” he added.
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 the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
The RSPCA’s full flood advice is available at http://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/seasonal/floods