RSPCA Flood Response Team on Standby as Water Rises in Southern England

Charity prepared to respond to emergencies as flood warnings and alerts issued

The RSPCA’s emergency flood response rescue teams have been placed on standby as more than 120 flood warnings and alerts have been issued across England – the majority across southern England.

The UK Government’s Flood Information Service has issued flood warnings – the second highest level of warning advising people to act to move family and pets to safety – across Dorset, East Sussex, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Surrey and West Sussex. Flood alerts have been issued across the South West and South East, as well as parts of London, the Midlands and North East.

The RSPCA is part of Defra’s National Flood Response Team and has approximately 60 specially-trained officers and a fleet of several emergency rescue boats that can be launched for water rescues. The water rescue teams are trained to operate in fast-flowing and contaminated water, and can be called upon to assist in rescuing animals, people and provide assistance to communities affected by flooding.

The charity placed its water rescue teams on standby after flood state one was declared by the organisation’s response managers on Wednesday night (16 November), running until at least Friday evening (18 November). The RSPCA has had six calls relating to flooding so far (as of Thursday 17 November, lunchtime).

Inspector Jason Finch, who is the charity’s national water rescue coordinator, said: “This decision is made based on local conditions, the safety of our officers and predictions on how the weather and water levels could impact animals in local areas. It’s also based on the number of emergency calls that are coming into our hotline.

“The main concerns we are seeing at the moment are coming from members of the public who have seen horses or livestock in flooded fields. While we’ve not launched any rescues yet, we are urging pet owners and farmers to act now to ensure the safety of their animals.

“Make sure you have a plan so that you know how to get your animals out of danger if the worst was to happen and you found yourself caught up in flooding. Floodwater can rise very quickly so if there is a flood warning in your area then act early and put your flood plan into action.

“Don’t put your own life or another’s life in danger to attempt an animal rescue and call us for help in an emergency.”

? Top tips

  • 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 and ensure microchip details are up-to-date and registered;
  • 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.

Residents can stay informed by calling Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for information and flood warnings 24 hours a day, or visit Wales residents should seek updates from

To see all RSPCA flood advice for small pets, horses and livestock, see the charity’s guide online:

If you see an animal outside that looks like it’s suffering or in danger, take a note of the location, time and date, and call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 (8am-7.30pm).

To help the RSPCA continue responding to animal welfare emergencies, please visit our website to donate or call our donation line on 0300 123 8181.

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