Root vegetables pretending to be rodents, ‘rude’ names for dogs and foxes having sex are stopping animals in real danger of abuse and neglect getting help.
As the RSPCA braces itself for its busiest year ever, the charity reveals the five most ridiculous calls it has received since January – in the hope of discouraging timewasters.
The charity’s 24-hour Cruelty line is intended for the reporting of mistreated, neglected, injured or distressed animals, but not all callers think carefully before dialling the sometimes over-stretched service.
One caller, for example, thought they had seen a monkey in a rabbit suit and wanted the RSPCA to investigate.
Another was upset after hearing someone refer to their cross-breed dog as a ‘mongrel’, which they felt was insulting.
There was also a woman who phoned the emergency number to invite someone from the RSPCA to come along to her birthday lunch as a guest.
But in perhaps the most bizarre call, someone wanted to know what they could expect to see and hear when watching foxes mating.
“Like many charities we are facing a big rise in calls at a time when our resources are under most strain,” said RSPCA chief inspector Dermot Murphy.
“In one recent case we had a call from someone who was convinced they had a rat in their kitchen, which they thought was unwell as it hadn’t moved in some time.
“When we arrived our inspector soon discovered it was in fact an onion that had rolled out of their shopping bag and onto the floor.
“Many of these calls are not made in malice, and of course much as we would like to help everyone, we simply haven’t got the staff to personally investigate each and every issue that the public brings to us, so we must prioritise to make sure we get to the animals most in need.”
Other calls that didn’t make the top five include a caller who was annoyed her cat wasn't responding to its name and another woman wanted the charity to phone her son and tell him to walk the dog.
One caller wanted someone from the society to go round to her friend to ask her to return her RSPCA catalogue because she had kept it for so long.
Another wanted the times for the bus to the RSPCA animal hospital, and someone also called the national emergency line about a bag of clothes that hadn't been collected for the charity shop.
One caller requested a list of education 'animal-themed' places in the area, while another wanted the charity to help her get a council house so she could get a pet - as her rented house did not allow it.
This isn’t a new problem for the RSPCA. Memorable callers from previous years include a woman who was concerned about a cat up on a roof, but when animal welfare officers arrived it was actually a satellite dish, and another who alerted the charity after she saw Charlton Heston shoot an animal in the 1972 film Call of the Wild.
The number of calls to the charity’s 24-hour Cruelty telephone line has risen by
more than 50% since 2011, and the charity is asking the public to show patience as it prioritises the workload.
Although the number of calls to the 0300 1234 999 helpline increases each year during the summer months, this year has already seen unprecedented demand.
Flooding across the UK in January and February led to an increased number of calls, with the RSPCA receiving more than 7,500 requests for help - and rescuing more than 2,000 animals at risk - in addition to its regular rescue and advice calls.
Disclaimer: No animals were harmed in the doctoring of these images