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Friday, 26 October, 2001, 07:43 GMT 08:43 UK
Catching cruelty in the net
A litter of Great Dane puppies that RSPCA rescued from a cramped town house, PA
RSPCA regularly rescues animals like these Great Dane puppies
The RSPCA is turning to technology to save money and help it respond better to all the enquiries it receives.

The British animal protection charity is looking to save millions of pounds over the next three years by ripping out its old communications system and installing a state-of-the-art replacement.

The RSPCA said a change was needed to help it cope with the two million enquiries - many of them emergencies - it gets annually.

The new communications system has been installed first at the RSPCA's new headquarters in Horsham, Sussex, and soon regional offices will be updated too.

Saving lives

Every 20 seconds someone calls the RSPCA for advice, help or to tell the charity about animals that are suffering or are being abused.

To help it tune its response to all these enquiries, the RSPCA is swapping its old voice communications and computer network for a system that routes everything over a network built around the internet's data-handling protocol.

By converting everything into data and running it across one network, the RSPCA estimates that it will save up to 2 million pounds over the next three to five years.

As well as saving money the new network will help the charity do a better job of labelling each enquiry and organising an appropriate response.

Faster response

Emergencies that need responding to quickly will be automatically routed to the right staff and centre so they can be dealt with faster.

The new network will also give RSPCA offices better access to information about potential homes for abandoned animals or those recovering from abuse.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said the end result should be fewer animals put to sleep because a home could not be found for them.

The RSPCA is the world's oldest animal protection charity and was established in 1824. It employs 1,500 people across its head office, 10 regional offices, 23 animal homes, and four hospitals.

Cable and Wireless is working with the RSPCA to complete the technology project.

See also:

28 Aug 01 | Wales
Fighting the animal cruelty war
13 May 01 | UK
Warm weather snake warning
04 Oct 01 | England
Swans used as 'target practice'
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