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Bourne RSPCA animal collection officer discusses the work of the charity




Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) workers don't just spend their days swanning around, they are often found rescuing and transporting animals.

The RSPCA's work is often misunderstood by many people who think they solely deal with animal cruelty.

While this is part of their job, an animal collection officer has given the Mercury a deeper insight into some of the other work that the RSPCA get up to.

Justin Disdale, animal collection officer for the RSPCA E2 inspectorate group
Justin Disdale, animal collection officer for the RSPCA E2 inspectorate group

Justin Disdale, who lives in Bourne, first became involved with the RSPCA as a volunteer while he was working as an estate agent.

He said: "I was very privileged to get hands on experience with birds and small mammals that I got to see close up - that was a game changer.

"At the end I thought 'that's what I'd like to do full time'."

Justin Disdale with a swan
Justin Disdale with a swan

Now none of Justin's days are the same.

A mission to rescue a swan with a suspected broken wing highlighted just how unpredictable his job can be.

Accompanied by inspectors Justin Stubbs and Steve Reeves, he took to the water to track down the swan which had been sighted in the river just one day before.

The boat journey to rescue a swan with an injured wing
The boat journey to rescue a swan with an injured wing

However after lots of time sailing about the river and scouring the surrounding fields, no injured swan was found.

It is possible that the swan they spent hours searching for was rescued by a member of the public or a separate animal charity.

Animal collection officers are often called out when it's dark, such as in the middle of the night, which can make locating what they are looking for extremely difficult.

A swan
A swan

Justin, 49, said: "My most memorable experience was a collapsed sheep which I had to attend in the very early hours of the morning.

"Trying to find a collapsed sheep in a pitch black field was quite demanding.

"Trying to find the owner of the sheep, that was also quite demanding - I had to think on my feet."

Justin Disdale, Justin Stubbs and Steve Reeves from the RSPCA
Justin Disdale, Justin Stubbs and Steve Reeves from the RSPCA

Now, workers at the RSPCA are using technology to their advantage.

Justin uses the app what3words to help determine the exact location of the injured or abandoned animals he needs to collect.

The location technology - which is also used by the police - divides the world into three metre by three metre squares.

Justin Stubbs and Justin Disdale bringing the RSPCA boat to shore
Justin Stubbs and Justin Disdale bringing the RSPCA boat to shore

Each square is allocated a unique three word address, which allows people to refer to their exact location no matter where they are.

One of the most important things in an animal collection officer's tool set happens to be something most of us own - a towel.

When an animal is stressed or injured, the first point of call is often to place a towel over its head to block its vision.

A swan
A swan

Many animals, such as deer who tend to stress a lot, won't process what's going on if they can't see it.

Justin also has some very specific advice on what you should do if you find an injured animal.

He said: "If you come across an injured animal and it can be confined, say in a box, then do that.

A badger
A badger

"Any bird fledglings, very young birds, leave alone.

"They may look like they've been abandoned but fledglings have probably fallen out of the nest and the parent bird will attend them.

"However if a bird or small mammal is visibly injured then it is a case of trying to confine it, phoning us and keeping the box where it's contained in a quiet place.

"Obviously we will attend as soon as possible to take it to one of our wildlife centres."

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