The RSPCA took 11,530 calls about cruelty, neglect and suffering between Christmas Eve and New Years Day.

These included a dog dumped in a pub car park in Oldham, another dog thrown 15 feet off a bridge and a kitten swung round by its tail in Andova.

Sadly, 668 of these incidents were related to abandoned animals across the country, with 57 of these in the Greater London area alone.

The charity investigated the abandonment of 245 dogs, 146 cats and 52 horses across the country over the festive period.

One example when the RSPCA stepped in to support animals in need over Christmas was on December 30 when three horses were found running free by the roadside in Bishop Auckland, Durham. The horses had been confined in a tennis court by members of the public and with the help of the British Horse Society and the RSPCA offered them a safe stable, in from the cold.

No owner has come forward to collect the three male foals.

Animal Collection Officer Jill Sanders has worked for the RSPCA for 21 years this year and has volunteered to work over Christmas every year. This year she was working across London from 7am till 3pm on Christmas Day.

ACO Sanders said: “It was a busy Christmas this year, I had calls about injuries to swans and pigeons, and a fox who had got himself stuck in a basement.

“People are always really grateful and pleased when you turn up to help rescue an animal on Christmas day as I think they are surprised we are working, but we want to help animals every day of the year.”

Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the inspectorate at the RSPCA, said: “There is no such thing as a quiet time of year for us and the RSPCA inspectorate is dedicated to getting the job done all year round.

“We expect 2018 to be as busy as ever and remain committed to helping those animals that rely on the RSPCA.”

The RSPCA’s emergency cruelty line received a total of 1,037,435 calls in 2017, 55,821 of these were in December.

If you are concerned about an animal, please call the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

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