THE RSPCA has now launched a Stock the Sleigh festive appeal to help needy animals this winter.

It comes following more than 4,700 calls that the animal cruelty prevention charity received from the South East last Christmas, which marked their busiest Christmas day in five years.

This year, the RSPCA is asking people to donate to Stock the Sleigh for the RSPCA to help all the animals the charity cares for over the Christmas period.

While a £7 donation could keep an animal warm with a soft and cosy blanket, £15 could give a warm blanket, treats and toys.

Last December, there were more than 61,000 calls coming through to the charity’s cruelty line, which was up by more than 5,000 the previous year.

Of these calls, 4,749 were logged in the South East.

Whilst most people tuck into their Christmas dinners, the charity’s inspectors will be working 24 hours a day rescuing animals from pets to wildlife and bringing them to safety.

Dermot Murphy, Chief Inspectorate Officer, said: “Our cruelty line received more than 900 calls on Christmas Day last year and our rescue officers are always out working through the festive period to help animals in need.

“Hospital staff will be working to provide veterinary care for injured and sick animals and our animal centre staff will be making sure the hundreds of pets and wild animals in our care over Christmas are well looked after.

He added: “Rescue work doesn’t stop just because it’s Christmas. We know that animals need our help all-year round and our officers are out in all weathers helping save pets from abuse and neglect, and rescuing wildlife who may be injured or in need of assistance. We are expecting to take in more than 10,000 animals this winter which means the officers, vets and animal care staff are braced for another busy festive period.

“We can’t do this on our own - we rely on our generous supporters to help the many animals who come into our care this Christmas in urgent need whether it is for veterinary care, medicine, food or a safe, comfortable and warm bed. We are asking animal lovers to Stock the Sleigh for the RSPCA and help us to care for these animals in desperate need this winter.”