A wild velociraptor on the run, a fire-breathing dragon in the garden - not April Fools but prank calls to the RSPCA

A wild velociraptor on the run, a fire-breathing dragon in the garden, and an elephant hit by a car. If you were thinking these were all April Fool's jokes - at the expense of the RSPCA's emergency line - then you'd be wrong...

Saturday, 1st April 2017, 8:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:40 pm

These are just a handful of the prank calls the animal welfare charity receives every year.

This April 1, the RSPCA - Britain’s largest and oldest animal welfare charity - is releasing some of the most bizarre calls made to its 24-hour cruelty line.

The charity’s call handlers are the frontline of the charity’s response to animal abuse.

When members of the public spot an animal in distress or wish to report deliberate cruelty, they can call in using 0300 1234 999. However, sometimes callers don’t have the best intentions...

“Last year, the RSPCA’s cruelty hotline received 1.15million calls - that’s an average of one call every 27 seconds,” said Dermot Murphy, assistant director of the RSPCA inspectorate.

“While most of those calls were from caring members of the public with genuine concerns for the welfare of an animal, occasionally, we are contacted by prank callers who find it amusing to waste our time.

“While our staff do, at times, see the funny side to these calls, they can also be very frustrating and potentially fatal for animals. If our staff are tied up on the lines dealing with prank calls, they aren’t available to answer calls from people with seriously ill or injured animals who desperately need our help.”

As the RSPCA braces itself for another busy summer, RSPCA call handlers have recounted some of the craziest prank calls they have received in an effort to discourage time wasters:

* “I think I ran an elephant over…”

* “There’s a dragon in my garden - he’s breathing on the fence and setting it on fire!”

* “I’m calling to report a wild velociraptor…”

* “Can you send an inspector out to teach my cat the Green Cross code?”

* “Could you have a word with my neighbour because every time he turns his power shower on it gives my dog diarrhoea?”

* “Could you tell my husband to get out of bed and take the dog for a walk?!”

* “My friend has had my RSPCA catalogue for ages - so could you go and get it back for me?”

“As you read through these prank calls you can’t help but chuckle,” Dermot added.

“But on a more serious note, it’s important to remember that we are facing a huge rise in calls just at a time when our resources are under the most strain.

“We enjoy a laugh and like to have fun at work, just like everyone else. But, at the end of the day, our staff are doing an important job and carrying out a role every day in which lives really are on the line.

“So we would urge anyone who thinks it’s amusing to contact our cruelty line - or any of the other emergency services - as part of a prank call, to think before dialling. Because they could have the death of an animal on their conscience.”

The charity is asking genuine callers to please remain patient and, if asked to wait, to hang on particularly if their calls are urgent.

The RSPCA is funded by public donations and has less than 500 frontline staff working across the whole of England and Wales dealing with calls and investigations.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).