‘Swan in peril’ turns out to be plastic chair as RSPCA races to scene

The RSPCA has revealed its funniest callouts of 2021 (Picture: RSPCA)

RSPCA officers rushed to rescue a chair from a river, a toy tiger in distress, and a man from his own sofa last year.

The animal charity had one of its busiest times in 2021, with 281,390 reports of trapped animals.

But staff were forced to tell some callers ‘to go to Specsavers’ after being summoned to hilarious situations.

One officer rushed to help a ‘swan tangled in electric fencing’ after the River Stout burst its banks in Dorset.

A passing driver had pulled over to call experts out when she saw the bird in peril.

Describing the incident, officer Graham Hammond said: ‘I went out to check on the bird and had prepared to call out the water rescue team for back-up.

‘But before they hit the road, I managed to get closer and get a good look at the ‘bird’ – which turned out to be a white plastic chair floating in the water!’

Another blunder listed in the RSPCA’s funniest call-outs of 2021 was a crying dog spotted tethered tightly to a canal boat in London.

Inspector Dale Grant said he was ‘really worried I could be walking into a dire situation involving a dog in a really dangerous predicament’.

‘But it turns out I needn’t have worried’, he continued. ‘The “dog” in question turned out to be a stuffed toy tiger that had been tied onto the bow of the boat!’

‘Snakes’ were a common problem last year, with reports of them stuck in sofas, in blocks and on garden chairs up and down the UK.

A terrified man in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, called the RSPCA about a large reptile that was trapped in his sofa.

The dog in distress was nothing but a stuffed toy tiger (Picture: RSPCA/Triangle News)
One man was certain a large snake was stuck in the sofa he bought a few months before… (Picture: RSPCA/Triangle News)
… but it was just another part of the sofa (Picture: RSPCA/Triangle News)

He claimed to feel the body of a snake under the cushions that he’d bought a few months earlier.

But when doubtful inspector Kim Walters went to the rescue, she discovered the ‘cold-blooded creature’ was just another part of his new sofa.

Meanwhile, a woman and her son became nervous when they spotted a snake sitting on their garden chair.

They called the police who alerted the RSPCA, but rescuer Martyn Fletcher was happy to tell them the King Cobra was the plastic kind – a toy of one of their neighbour’s children.

Another rescuer rushed to a report of a snake stuck in a white block in Cranham, Gloucestershire.

It was a taxidermy snake arranged inside a block as part of an art piece.

‘I left a note attached to the piece to explain that the snake was not real and to avoid any further call-outs’, officer Beth Boyd said.

Worried onlookers were tricked by plastic items more than once last year.

Concerned rescue officer Shane Lynn braved icy January conditions to help a duck that had been ‘stuck in frozen ice and unable to move for two days’.

But he needn’t have worried as the bird in Middlesbrough, North Yorks, was nothing but an ornament.

An RSPCA officer rushed to save a plastic ornament of a duck (Picture: RSPCA/Triangle News)
A taxidermy snake arranged inside a block fooled one onlooker in Cranham (Picture: RSPCA/Triangle News)

A few hours away, rescue officer David Holgate expected a sad scene when he was alerted to a dead badger in a rural spot near Scunthorpe, Lincs.

He said: ‘A passerby had spotted a number of black bin bags, one of which was split open and the body of a dead badger could be seen poking out.

‘I thought I’d be investigating the suspicious death of a beautiful badger but I was quite relieved when I arrived to find fly-tipped rubbish bags containing garden waste.

‘The upturned contents of a flower pot – clumped soil and plant roots – did look suspicious from a distance.’

Mistakes also happen in the sky, as animal rescue officer Lisa Miller discovered when she rushed to a bird tangled in a flag pole above a block of flats in Woolwich, London.

The animal had apparently ‘been trying to fly away but couldn’t free itself’.

But Lisa said: ‘When I arrived at the scene I quickly established that I wouldn’t need to launch a rescue mission; as it was a plastic bird scarer.

‘The woman was very embarrassed but we had a giggle and I told her she should go to Specsavers.’

It comes after a dead leopard on the A646 turned out to be something completely different a few years ago.

This plastic bird scarer had apparently ‘been trying to fly away’ (Picture: RSPCA/Triangle News)
Thankfully, a ‘dead badger’ was just some fly-tipped rubbish bags (Picture: RSPCA/Triangle News)

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