RSPCA South Yorkshire celebrates 20 years rescuing animals with over 20 million calls for help

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The charity is sharing its success stories, such as when five pups were dumped in Sheffield's Beeley Woods at just a few hours old.

RSPCA South Yorkshire says it has answered 20 million "potentially life-saving" calls in its time. It celebrated its 20th birthday last week.

Every year around a million calls are made from across England and Wales to the charity’s National Call Centre, based in Wath-upon-Dearne, which is the first point of contact for people reporting animal cruelty and neglect.

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Otter was one of five pups found dumped in Beeley Woods in Sheffield in September 2022 with his umbilical cord still attached. Today he is a regular visitor to the branch.Otter was one of five pups found dumped in Beeley Woods in Sheffield in September 2022 with his umbilical cord still attached. Today he is a regular visitor to the branch.
Otter was one of five pups found dumped in Beeley Woods in Sheffield in September 2022 with his umbilical cord still attached. Today he is a regular visitor to the branch. | RSPCA South YOrkshire

They include animals like Otter (pictured) - found dumped in Beeley Woods just hours old along with his four siblings with their umbilical cords still attached. The shocking case captured the hearts of Star readers as they were rescued and hand-reared.

Otter, a French-bulldog and Shih tzu type, is now a regular visitor to the Capita building as he was adopted by Tom Buckley, who is a hub manager at the centre.

It was back in September 2022 when a report was made after a member of the public walking in Beeley Woods, near Middlewood, Sheffield.

RSPCA frontline rescuer deputy chief inspector Sara Jordan immediately launched an investigation to find the person responsible for dumping the pups while Otter and his siblings were given emergency veterinary treatment.

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Four of the five newborn puppies found abandoned in Beeley Woods, near Middlewood, Sheffield, were hand-reared to health by RSPCA staff and volunteers, though the fifth sadly died. Photo: RSPCAFour of the five newborn puppies found abandoned in Beeley Woods, near Middlewood, Sheffield, were hand-reared to health by RSPCA staff and volunteers, though the fifth sadly died. Photo: RSPCA
Four of the five newborn puppies found abandoned in Beeley Woods, near Middlewood, Sheffield, were hand-reared to health by RSPCA staff and volunteers, though the fifth sadly died. Photo: RSPCA | rspca

The poorly pups were too young to be away from their mum so needed hand-rearing to stand any chance of survival by kind-hearted RSPCA staff and helpers. Sara herself took Otter home to feed him every few hours, including through the night, until he was old enough to find his forever home. 

The beautiful boy was adopted by Tom after he heard about his plight and contacted Sara to offer him a home.

Otter the dog with new owner and hub manager at the RSPCA South Yorkshire call centre Tom Buckley.Otter the dog with new owner and hub manager at the RSPCA South Yorkshire call centre Tom Buckley.
Otter the dog with new owner and hub manager at the RSPCA South Yorkshire call centre Tom Buckley. | rspca

He said: "I had heard about what happened to Otter and was really shocked and as the inspector is a friend I kept asking her for updates. Then as soon as he was old enough I went to meet him with my family and I was smitten.

"Now he regularly comes to work with me and it is great for other staff to see the major difference we can make by taking reports on the cruelty line and making sure they are dealt with. 

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“Otter is a walking testament to this and the amazing work also carried out by the charity frontline rescuers."

Otter is just one of the thousands of animals call handlers at the centre have helped save during the past two decades. This special 20th birthday comes on the eve of the charity’s 200 year anniversary in 2024 - 200 years of changing minds, laws, industries and animals’ lives.

The team at the RSPCA South Yorkshire call centre in Wath Upon Dearne celebrate their 20th birthday.The team at the RSPCA South Yorkshire call centre in Wath Upon Dearne celebrate their 20th birthday.
The team at the RSPCA South Yorkshire call centre in Wath Upon Dearne celebrate their 20th birthday. | rspca

The 150-strong workforce plan to continue this legacy in a time when the charity is facing more challenges than ever before.

Reports of cruelty are now soaring due to the cost of living crisis with cases of abandonment hitting a three-year high. Latest figures show more than 21,000 reports are expected this year compared to 16,000 in 2020.

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Sadly the charity also received 43,360 reports of neglect of animals last year (up until October) - which is one every five minutes when the call centre is open. The total figure for 2023 is expected to be around 50,000.

Due to the increased pressure on the service members of the public are asked to consider if their call is not an emergency to gain advice from the RSPCA website. This will allow staff to direct frontline rescuers to animals in greatest need.

Jill Smith, RSPCA specialist manager who started at the NCC from the first day it opened, said: "Over the last in excess of 20 million calls have come through to us and it can be stressful at times with some of the horrific cruelty we have reported to us along with harrowing videos and photographs which people send in as part of their evidence.

"But we do have a real sense of family here within the workforce and the staff have unwavering dedication towards the RSPCA and in helping to stop animal cruelty.

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"We are fully supporting the RSPCA’s Join the Winter Rescue and have been fund-raising and are also encouraging others to make a donation to help rescue teams reach the thousands of animals who desperately need them."

Also visiting the centre was Buddy - another RSPCA rescue dog - who was adopted by Abbey Leese, 23, who also works at the centre and lives in Wath-upon-Dearne.

Also visiting the centre was Buddy - another RSPCA rescue dog - who was adopted by Abbey Leese, who also works at the centre.Also visiting the centre was Buddy - another RSPCA rescue dog - who was adopted by Abbey Leese, who also works at the centre.
Also visiting the centre was Buddy - another RSPCA rescue dog - who was adopted by Abbey Leese, who also works at the centre. | RSPCA

She said: "During a phone call to an inspector he told me he had a rescue dog which he was fostering because his owner could no longer cope with caring for his needs. He said how he needed to find him a permanent home and once he sent me a photograph of Buddy I fell in love and we adopted him.

"He is aged about 18 months now and lives with my parents' dog called Oscar and they love to snuggle up and play together. Buddy is loving family life and has a cheeky streak - but he has settled so well and we are delighted to have him as an addition to the family.

"He comes to work with me sometimes and it is great because all the call centre staff can see the result of their efforts in helping save animals."

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