The two examples given by Corbie in his Border Country column last week to illustrate his point that the Scottish SPCA is “woefully distant” when it comes to dealing with wildlife incidents in the countryside paints an unrealistic picture and should be put into perspective.
As Scotland’s national animal welfare charity, we dealt with more than 43,000 callouts from members of the public in 2010 – an average of 121 incidents every day. Furthermore, we rescued more than 12,600 animals last year, including more than 2,000 wild animals which were rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
Far from being “mostly city-based”, we help sick, injured and neglected animals across the length and breadth of the country, including the remotest areas of the Highlands and Islands.
While we regularly have a huge number of callouts at any one time, we always arrive as soon as we can, often immediately and certainly within two hours in many instances. Any perceived delay is only due to the sheer volume of callouts we deal with, not due to where our 80 inspectors and ambulance drivers are based.
Only last week our Borders ambulance driver rescued a sick and injured otter cub from the area, which is now being cared for at our wildlife rescue centre in Fife, and our Peebles-based inspector rescued two kittens found abandoned and left to die in a plastic bag in Hawick. Thankfully, they were alive and are recovering in our care.
So far this year we have responded to more than 300 wildlife incidents in the Borders alone, in contrast to the two instances that Corbie gave from Speyside and Philiphaugh.
To pick up on the “modern cutbacks” comment, despite the recession affecting charitable donations, we are still investing significantly in our frontline services, including more inspectors and ambulance drivers where there is clear and consistent need, a new animal rescue and rehoming centre for Aberdeenshire, and a national wildlife rescue centre in Clackmannanshire which will increase our capacity to treat and care for sick and injured wild animals considerably.
While we would ideally like to have the resources to offer a 24/7 emergency service, we have to align our services with the charitable donations we gratefully receive.
Be assured that we continue to operate in the best interests of animal welfare at all times.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn