They’re Britain’s leading force championing the rights of animals to a safe and happy life –but what is a day in the life of an RSPCA inspector really like?
Carl Larsson, 29, has been with the charity since 2012. He started working as Blackpool’s inspector last year, and now spends his days driving from door to door, reuniting lost pets with their owners and scooping flea-bitten dogs from their squalid homes in search of a better life.
We team up for half a day in the official RSPCA van, ready to take on those who abuse or neglect animals.
Setting off down St Annes Road, we’re spared the agony of a 15-minute wait at a couple of red lights when Carl receives an emergency call about a Jack Russell found soaked, crying, and bleeding on a doorstep in Fleetwood.
We head off to Hathaway Road, where we meet 33-year-old Louise Scott and a young pup nothing like the bedraggled ball of fur I expected. She leaps onto my lap, getting paw prints all over my trousers, and promptly starts trying to lick Carl to death.
Louise said: “She was sat outside the front door crying. We just couldn’t leave her outside. She was soaking wet.
“Whoever’s dog she is, she’s very intelligent. She knows how to sit and lay down.
“I love animals. If she wasn’t chipped or picked up we would love to keep her. My boys called her ‘Friday’.”
The mum-of-three had brought the dog into her kitchen, where she noticed she was bleeding from her genital area. This was later found to be a harmless side effect of the dog being ‘in season’.
A quick scan reveals the dog is micro-chipped to an address in Knott End, and one phone call later we’re off to reunite the playful pet – called Bea – with her grateful owner, David Hume, 43.
David, who works as a milkman, had been off on his early morning rounds with his faithful companion by his side when she jumped off his milk float and ran away on Manor Road, just two minutes away from where she was found four hours later by Louise.
He said: “My van broke down and she jumped out of the window and disappeared. I’ve been looking for her ever since.”
Carl said: “This is a perfect example of why you need to have your dog micro-chipped.”
This tale had a happy ending but sadly so many that Carl and his colleagues come across do not.
It is easy to understand Carl’s frustration that when they do come across neglectful owners, so many are let off with a ‘slap on the wrist’ for starving a cat, or leaving a rabbit in its own droppings for months, or letting a dog be eaten alive by worms from the inside out.
Still, former PCSO Carl insists his time as an RSPCA officer is some of the most rewarding work a person could ask for.
He said: “There can be tough days, but it’s incredibly rewarding work .
“You feel real joy when you have taken a thin puppy in a really poor condition out of a horrible, dirty home and then after a few months it’s running around in the garden.
“That’s why we do the job.”