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RSPCA water rescue teams on standby as Storm Christoph approaches

The RSPCA is urging animal owners and farmers to prepare for potential flooding this week after flood alerts were issued across the country and a major incident was declared in the north.

The charity’s specialist water rescue teams have been put on standby until the end of the week after forecasters warned of widespread flooding as a result of Storm Christoph. 

RSPCA water rescue team coordinator Jason Finch said: “Today (Tuesday 19 January) the Environment Agency has issued 17 flood warnings and 121 flood alerts across England and the Met Office issued an amber weather warning for rain across the North, Midlands and East. A major incident has also been declared in South Yorkshire.

“Forecasters are warning that Storm Christoph could bring up to 200mm of rain in parts of the country. This amount of rainfall along with melting snow from previous cold weather could cause flooding so we’re urging pet owners, horse and livestock keepers, and farmers to prepare.

“Planning an escape route before flooding hits can make a big difference if you find yourself in an emergency situation. Flood water can rise very quickly and animals can be extremely vulnerable so it’s really important that we plan ahead for all eventualities.”

Top tips for flooding

  • Plan your escape route and keep contact details of people who can help you move your animals in an emergency;

  • Ensure you can be contacted in an emergency - if you have horses or livestock in field attach your contact details to gates so you can be contacted;

  • Make sure you have suitable carriers available for small animals and keep a supply of food in case of evacuation; 

  • Bring small animals inside and, if possible, upstairs, and move food, bedding etc somewhere dry;

  • Put important documents in sealed bag along with photo of pet incase they get lost;

  • Move livestock and horses to high ground and ensure you have emergency feed and water supplies;

  • If you have to leave your animals behind, leave them inside an upstairs room with plenty of food and water. Leave notices on the outside doors to say there are animals inside and contact us or your local Flood Warden immediately to arrange rescue;

  • Stay informed; call Floodline 0845 988 1188, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood (England) or https://naturalresources.wales/ (Wales).

In 2020, during Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge, the RSPCA’s flood response team responded to almost 250 calls and helped to rescue horses and sheep caught up in the floodwater. 

The animal welfare charity is part of Defra’s National Flood Response Team and has around 65 officers - trained and equipped to deal with flood-stricken animals - and a fleet of 35 inflatable boats. 

To see all our flood advice for small pets, horses and livestock, see our guide here: www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/seasonal/floods. To contact the RSPCA in an emergency, please call 0300 1234 999. 

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