Published: 14:39, 30 March 2020
| Updated: 15:32, 30 March 2020
Animal lovers are being urged to donate to the RSPCA so it can continue to save creatures in distress during the coronavirus outbreak.
The charity's staff have been designated as key workers by the government, but they are in need of funding to keep them out on the road in Kent helping pets suffering cruelty and neglect.
Although RSPCA centres have closed to the public, including Leybourne Animal Centre, work continues to provide vital care to animals across the county.
RSPCA Leybourne is currently looking after more than 100 animals, including 26 dogs and 57 cats, and is expecting even more to come into its care in the coming weeks.
Today the RSPCA has launched a national emergency appeal for donations, which is being supported by comedian and animal lover Ricky Gervais.
The Office star said: "It is really important for us all to pull together to help each other at this difficult time and someone needs to be there for animals too.
"I would urge people to give whatever they can spare at this really difficult time to support the RSPCA so they can stay out on the frontline rescuing the animals who need them most.
"They are facing huge challenges through this crisis, but their amazing staff are committed to being there for animals in danger in any way they can and they can only do it with your help."
Last year RSPCA staff dealt with 6,566 animal welfare incidents in Kent and they are continuing to save animals on the frontline through this difficult time, with teams continuing an emergency-only service through the lockdown period.
Dermot Murphy, head of the RSPCA rescue teams, said: "This is a time of national crisis, and many of us are anxious about the future and our loved ones.
"This crisis has touched all areas of life and the RSPCA is no different.
"As we all face the biggest challenge of a generation, the RSPCA must continue to be on the frontline, rescuing and caring for the animals who need us most.
"Our rescuers, vets and nurses have been designated key workers by the government which means we can carry on saving animals from cruelty and neglect and we rely entirely on generous public donations to deliver our vital services.
"We are facing immense challenges and huge pressures on strained resources, but our hugely dedicated teams are out there dealing with emergencies and our centres continue to deliver vital care to thousands of animals, with more expected in the coming weeks."
Since the crisis deepened at the beginning of March, the RSPCA rescue teams have spent five hours saving Harris, a black colt stuck in freezing water in marshland in Gravesend, and rescued a pregnant cat who had been dumped in a cardboard box in woodland in Cuxton along with two other cats.
To help the RSPCA keep rescuing animals like these and keep their animal hospitals and centres running through these unprecedented times, you can donate whatever you can spare at www.rspca.org.uk/covid.