Animal Cruelty FAQs

If you see an animal in danger or which appears to be injured please call our animal helpline immediately on 03000 999 999.

Unfortunately, we cannot receive concerns about an animal’s welfare by email.

Our helpline is open 7.30am – 9pm March to October and 7.30am – 8pm November to February.

Our helpline advisors are also available to offer animal welfare advice if you require it.

Yes. All calls to our animal helpline are in strict confidence and can be made anonymously if necessary. Calls are subject to the Data Protection Act 1998.

When you call our animal helpline to report an incident our helpline advisors will ask you for key information, such as where and when the incident took place, and any information you may have about who is responsible.

When we have these details, one of our inspectors will investigate further.

Scottish SPCA inspectors are authorised to enforce the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, which means we can report cases of suspected animal cruelty to the Crown Office. While we receive no government funding, we are the only animal welfare charity in the UK with this status.

On occasion, our inspectors will issue advice to animal owners to help improve animal welfare standards. We may also issue an animal welfare notice which is legally enforceable, or submit a report to the procurator fiscal who will decide if the owner should be prosecuted.

If you believe a dog has been abandoned or is sick or injured please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

However, if you are making a noise complaint about a barking dog you should contact your local council.

In the vast majority of cases the birds are able to free themselves as swans are incredibly powerful and more than capable of breaking any ice that forms around them. Occasionally, if temperatures are unusually low and the water is very still, like that found in a pond, they may become stuck. However, this is very rare and normally the birds will simply break the ice themselves and fly off when they are ready to.

If you are worried about a swan, or any waterfowl, during icy weather please monitor the bird from a distance. If the bird is there for a number of hours without moving, or appears sick or injured in any way, then please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 in the first instance.

Please do not attempt to free the bird yourself by venturing on to frozen waterways or by throwing objects in an attempt to break up the ice. This could cause serious injury to the bird and put your own safety at risk.

If there is a real concern we will contact the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service for assistance. We work very closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and our trained animal rescue officers are able to assess the severity of each situation and if we need any support from other agencies.


Good question! Every spring we receive more calls about baby birds than anything else.

People often become worried about baby birds being on the ground when they are actually learning to fly and their parents are nearby.

You should call us if a fledgling is injured in any way. For more information, see what to do if you find a baby bird on the ground.

If the dog is suffering and you’re unable to locate the owner then call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999. If the car is parked at a supermarket then you should ask for a broadcast to be put through the shop asking for the owner to return to their car.

It’s a common misconception that Scotland doesn’t get warm enough to cause a dog distress when left alone in a car over the summer months.

We’re seeing an increased number of calls to our animal helpline proving that the public are also concerned about this issue. Unfortunately it also means that there’s more for us to do to prevent it happening.

Leaving a dog in a car can cause the animal great distress, and in some cases, lead to death.

Find out more about our annual #dogsdieinhotcars campaign.

Whilst it can be upsetting to see a dog left alone for long periods of time, legally dogs are allowed to be left alone providing they have access to adequate food, water and shelter. We understand you want to help but the Scottish SPCA must act within in the law and can often only offer advice in this situation.

However if you’re concerned about the welfare of the dog, or believe their basic needs aren’t being met, please phone our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

If your dog is aggressive we suggest that you get them checked by your vet as there may be an underlying issue that you are currently unaware of.

We cannot accept any aggressive dogs that we would be unable to rehome safely. We have a duty to ensure the safety of the public and our staff at all times.

Pets can often develop behavioural problems which can be upsetting, especially if they display hostile and destructive behaviour, but you can do things to help. There are lots of dog training classes available and being a patient owner who takes the time to train your dog properly will help.

Please contact Police Scotland if you see a dangerous dog, witness, or are victim to an attack. The owner of the dog should also seek veterinary advice as there may be an underlying issue causing the dog to act this way.

Any dog can be dangerous in the wrong hands. It is for this reason that we encourage new dog owners to socialise their canines and ensure they are well trained and cared for.

Every year the Scottish SPCA rescues many sick and injured stray dogs which need help and often require veterinary care.

However, rescuing stray dogs is the legal responsibility of local authorities. If you find a healthy stray dog you should contact your local council dog warden or police station.

If you find a sick or injured stray dog please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

Sadly it is not a legal requirement to walk dogs as long as they have access to an exercise area. The Scottish SPCA reports directly to the procurator fiscal and has to act within the law at all times.

If you are concerned that the dog is suffering and not receiving any exercise please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

It is a legal requirement to stop and report the accident to Police Scotland when you hit a dog, goat, horse, cattle, donkey, mule, sheep or pig with your car.

Drivers are not required to report a cat or any other animals, however they may still wish to contact the police to inform them of any accidents.

If the animal is injured we will be able to assist and scan them for any microchips to help alert the owner. Please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

The Scottish SPCA rescues many sick and injured cats every year and we receive lots of calls from people concerned about 'stray' cats in their local area.

Unlike dogs, cats are free to roam and will often spend long periods away from their home. They are more likely to do so if they are being fed by different people.

Our advice is not to feed cats you don't own, which will help increase the chance that they will return to their proper home.

However, unless a stray cat is injured or sick we cannot rescue it. If you find a healthy stray cat, Cats Protection may be able to help you, for more information give their National Information Line a call on 03000 12 12 12.

If you find a sick or injured stray cat please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

There are a few ways to keep cats out of your garden, however it’s very important to ensure the feline doesn’t come to any harm.

Similar to other animals, such as foxes, cats will be deterred from entering a garden if there are prickly plants and chicken wire fencing. Other methods such as placing plastic bottles half-filled with water in your garden may also help deter felines.

If your cat is stuck up a tree we would suggest giving your cat time to come down on its own. An attempt to rescue them might chase them up even higher or cause them to panic.

We know that it can be worrying when your cat runs up a tree but cats will often come down when they are hungry.

However if you have a very young kitten, or if your cat has been stuck for 24 hours or more then please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 and someone will be able to advise.

You shouldn’t call the fire brigade before calling us. Our animal rescue officer will give them a call if they need help.

We often find that birds who are on the ground and can’t fly are fledglings. These are young birds who are still learning to fly and shouldn’t be disturbed.

You will see a lot of fledglings in the spring and summer months, as this is when most birds breed, don’t be alarmed as they are still being cared for by their parents.

Our animal helpline operators will be able to determine if a bird is in fact a fledgling who is learning to fly. We advise that fledglings are left alone unless they appear to be injured or are in danger. If you are unsure call us on 03000 999 999.

Should a bird be injured we will be able to send an animal rescue officer out to help. The officer will be able to assess the injury and determine if we can rehabilitate the bird. If a bird is severely injured sometimes the kindest option is to put the bird to sleep to prevent further suffering.

Birds that we rescue are taken to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Fishcross to be rehabilitated before being released back into the wild once they are fit and healthy.

It can be tempting to want to help a young bird who may look helpless and we know people have the best intentions at heart but this is natural and their parents will be looking over them nearby. Most young birds will leave the nest once fully feathered, but unable to fly.

If a bird is in a potentially dangerous place such as a busy path or near a road then we would suggest moving it to a safe place nearby, where the parents can still hear their young.

If, after watching from a safe distance, you still believe the fledgling has been abandoned then please contact our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 for advice.

We receive many calls each year about ducklings and are often able to return them to their natural habitat.

Although ducklings are taught from a young age to fend for themselves, their mothers are very maternal and usually stay with them until they are fully feathered and can fend for themselves.

If the ducklings don’t appear to be with their mother or are in danger, then please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 as we will be able to take them to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre to be care for until they are ready to be released back into the wild.

It is illegal to remove a bird nest that is in use or under construction. You will be able to remove the nest once the nesting season is over. However the length of this season will depend on the species of bird. Birds nest throughout Spring and Summer and some birds will nest more than once during that time.

An artificial nesting box will help you control where birds nest the following year. You can find online guides on how to make these, or buy them from the RSPB or many garden centres.

If you’re unsure please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

We are aware that seagulls often become aggressive when trying to protect their young or nests. All species of gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act which prevents anyone from injuring or killing them and damaging or destroying an active nest. Once nesting season is finished the gulls will move on.

However should the birds pose a risk to public safety or health you should contact your local council as they can deal with each case on an individual basis to determine if the gulls need to be removed or humanely destroyed.

As a temporary measure we would suggest using an open umbrella as a deterrent when leaving your property if they are nesting near your home.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, if you do find one out during the day it is most likely unwell or struggling to find food. You should give us a call as we’ll be able to assess whether it needs to be taken to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre to be rehabilitated.

If you find a hedgehog at any point during the winter months give our animal helpline a call on 03000 999 999 as hedgehogs should be in hibernation at this time of year. Our National Wildlife Rescue Centre cares for lots of hedgehogs every year who were discovered outside during the cold weather.

Rescued hedgehogs are released once they have reached a suitable weight of over 600g and the weather has warmed up to a consistent night time temperature of over four degrees centigrade.

Our advice is to leave fawns (baby deer) alone, unless they are showing signs of distress and calling out, and return in 24 hours as the mother will likely have moved it. If the fawn has not been moved at this stage but is still not calling or showing any signs of distress, the mother has probably come back and fed it.

To be sure a fawn has been abandoned it must be observed from a distance for at least 12 hours. A fawn that has been truly abandoned will get up from its hiding place and start calling for its mother. If you believe it has been abandoned please give our animal helpline a call on 03000 999 999.

Fawns are left alone from a very early age as their mothers go off foraging. They are left curled up under bushes or in long grasses to keep hidden from potential predators but are often disturbed by dogs and humans.

Deer can usually get away from built up areas and quite often just need a gate left open in the evening for them to slip out. In busier areas you have to be very careful not to chase a deer out onto a road as it could cause an accident.

If you’re concerned that the deer might run onto a busy road please give our animal helpline a call on 03000 999 999.

Each year we urge the public to be aware of injured seals and orphaned pups who might need our assistance.

We are often contacted about seal pups that are healthy but have been abandoned by their mothers because someone has disturbed them.

Our National Wildlife Rescue Centre typically cares for over 100 injured or orphaned seal pups each year.

Anyone concerned about a seal pup, including any who appear injured, are found on public beaches or are spotted in unusual places such as non-breeding areas, should call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 before approaching them.

It is very important not to touch any seals that you find on a beach.

Please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 if you find a grounded bat as healthy bats can usually take off from the ground so it’s possible that it needs a little help.

Injured bats are taken to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

It’s not unusual for a pet to bring an unwanted visitor into your home. Quite often the animal will be unharmed however you should always give us a call as there may be puncture wounds that you cannot see. It’s always safer for us to give the animal a once over to be sure there is no hidden injury before it gets on its way. 

If you discover an injured wild rabbit or hare then please phone our animal helpline on 03000 999 999. If it appears uninjured please leave it alone and treat it like any other wild animal.

Foxes should be deterred safely using sonic devices which give out a noise that is inaudible to humans but unpleasant for foxes and can be purchased online or from some garden centres.

We would also discourage anyone from leaving out food for foxes.

Foxes are scavengers and are more active at night, that’s why you will rarely see them out during the day.

If you are looking for advice on bees or would like to contact a beekeeper you should visit

Yellow bellied sliders are classed as non-natives by an EU directive, but that has not yet been ratified into Scottish law which allows us to rescue this species if they are abused, abandoned and injured and help find them new homes.

Many equine breeds can live outside all year round depending on their individual needs. Native breeds need less additional nutrition and shelter whereas finer thoroughbred types will need significantly more.

If you have concerns for the wellbeing of any equine whose welfare you believe may be being compromised, please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

All calls received to our animal helpline will be allocated to an inspector who will review the situation and take further action if required.

Whilst we always help where we can, as a charity our resources are very limited so we unfortunately cannot attend reports of deceased animals.

Should the animal be alive please give us a call and we will be able to assist in any way that we can.

Your local council will be able to help if you come across a deceased animal.

We understand that it can be a very distressing situation when you discover an injured animal.

If you’re unsure what to do whilst waiting for an animal rescue officer then we can arrange for someone to give you a ring back with specific information depending on the animal and its condition.

To report an injured animal please call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999.

Yes, we offer a forever care service free of charge. Should anything happen to you, you will have peace of mind knowing that your pet will come into our care and they will be well looked after until we can find them a suitable, loving new home. We are very proud of our policy to never put a healthy animal to sleep.

As we receive no government funding, we ask that you consider making a donation or leaving a gift in your Will to help us continue our work saving Scotland’s abused, abandoned and injured animals.

If you'd like more information on our forever care service or wish to register your pet(s), please click here or contact our legacy and in memory manager by emailing

We’d love your old blankets and any unopened food that you have. Feel free to pop along to your local centre any day between 1pm and 4pm to drop your donations off.

Unfortunately we can’t accept any duvets as we find animals can destroy them very easily.

If you are an organisation looking to make a large donation or partner with us then please contact our Corporate Fundraising Manager, on 03000 999 999.

You can view a full list of items you can donate here.

We don’t currently offer any financial assistance for vet bills although the PDSA or Blue Cross can often help. To find out if you are eligible for their veterinary assistance visit their websites here:  



You can help raise funds by donating any unwanted jewellery, electronics, stamps, currency, clothing/textiles and even cars!

Find out more about recycling your unwanted items here

If you have something not listed on our website which you would like to donate please give our fundraising team a call on 03000 999 999 (option 4).

There a few different options when returning your sponsorship money.

You can call 03000 999 999 (option 4) to make a payment over the phone. Our fundraising  team are always more than happy to help in any way they can.

Another option is to address a cheque to Scottish SPCA and post it to:

The Fundraising Team
Scottish SPCA 6U
Halbeath Interchange Business Park
Kingseat Road
KY11 8RY

Please do not send money in the post as it can easily be lost.

We have special food collection boxes throughout Scotland which are very popular and are in convenient locations. Contact your local centre for more information. 

We also accept donations online through our Amazon Wish List. Find a full list of Wish Lists on our donate food page.