An animal welfare charity has issued a caution about prank calls after responding to a report of an owl tied to a tree which turned out to be a plastic water feature.
Staff at Scottish SPCA say they are unsure whether the anonymous call on Tuesday was malicious or made by a “well-meaning but short-sighted” neighbour.
An inspector who investigated the report found the owl among a garden full of ornaments at a property in Aberdeenshire.
“It was immediately clear to me that the animal was obviously not real so I have to say that I’m more inclined to think that the call may have been made as a prank,” chief inspector John Carle said.
“We occasionally receive call-outs of this nature from individuals with genuine concerns for animals, only to find that the animal in question is a toy or an ornament.”
Last year animal rescue officers were called to a report of a snake in the loft of a house in Kingswells, Aberdeen, which turned out to be part of an Adam and Eve fancy dress costume. In another incident in Glasgow the charity went to rescue a baby alligator from a roundabout, discovering it was, in fact, a plastic toy.
“In both cases the callers were mortified and genuinely believed the animals they’d seen were real,” Mr Carle said.
“On a serious note, we are receiving a huge volume of call-outs every day, so prank calls of any kind not only waste our time and our supporters’ donations but could delay us in reaching an animal that desperately needs our help.”