Comedian Ricky Gervais has “thrown his support” behind an emergency charity appeal to help care for equines during the coronavirus pandemic – as rescue cases are expected to rise.
The RSPCA launched an appeal yesterday (30 March) to raise funds in order to allow the charity’s teams to continue their frontline work.
“Animal rescuers at the charity have been designated key workers by the government but vital funding is needed to keep them on the road, continuing to rescue animals,” said a RSPCA spokesman.
“The charity is currently caring for 842 horses and the number is expected to grow as even more come into their care in the coming weeks as rescue teams bring in more equines in need.”
Ricky Gervais said it’s really important “for us all to pull together” to help each other at this difficult time.
“Someone needs to be there for animals too,” he said. “I would urge people to give whatever they can spare at this really difficult time to support the RSPCA so they can stay out on the frontline rescuing the animals who need them most.
“They are facing huge challenges through this crisis, but their amazing staff are committed to being there for animals in danger in any way they can and they can only do it with your help.”
The spokesman added staff at six centres are focusing on keeping the horses and ponies in their care “happy and healthy” as rehoming and fostering has been paused.
“Almost 80% of the horses in the RSPCA’s care are in private boarding stables across England and Wales as there is not enough room in rehoming centres and the charity will be paying for their care throughout the crisis,” he said.
“The charity is also facing a huge financial strain as it is already seeing the damaging effect of this crisis on its fundraising income, while the costs of saving, treating and caring for animals continue.”
RSPCA chief inspectorate officer Dermot Murphy said this is “a time of national crisis”.
“Many of us are anxious about the future and our loved ones. This crisis has touched all areas of life and the RSPCA is no different,” he said. “As we all face the biggest challenge of a generation, the charity must continue to be on the frontline, rescuing and caring for the animals who need us most.
“Our rescuers, vets and nurses have been designated key workers by the government which means we can carry on saving animals from cruelty and neglect, but we rely entirely on generous public donations to fund our vital services.”
Mr Murhphy added the charity is facing “immense challenges and huge pressures” on strained resources.
“Our hugely dedicated teams are out there dealing with emergencies and our centres continue to deliver vital care to thousands of animals, with more expected in the coming weeks,” he said.
“We know this is a difficult time for everyone, but we must still be here for animals who are suffering and we are appealing for animal lovers to give whatever they can to help us.”
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The charity has received more than 60,000 calls on its animal cruelty line since the beginning of March. Calls have included a colt needing rescued from freezing water in Marshland on 15 March and a herd of Shetland ponies requiring care after their owner was taken ill at the start of the year.
“The young colt had a huge open wound across his right shoulder, where it appeared he had been impaled on something sharp,” said the spokesman. “RSPCA rescuer Grace Harris-Bridge worked with a vet, police, the fire service and other charity workers to bring the scared horse out of the mud and into a horsebox. He was taken to a vet for urgent treatment and is now recovering in RSPCA care, in private boarding.
“Animal care officer Julie Parson has been caring for the Shetland ponies in her own time to help make sure they are socialised and able to be rehomed once lockdown is over.”
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