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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 15:40 GMT
Animals killed in floods
Liz Dawson with her flock of sheep in her home
Farmer Liz Dawson tends her flock inside her home
As the worst floods in 50 years continue to batter Britain, humans are not the only ones to suffer.

Many farm animals have died as a result of the severe weather, and hundreds have had to be rescued as the floodwater claimed their grazing land.

A sheep looks down from the top of the Dawsons' stairs
A sheep takes it easy at the top of the Dawsons' stairs
One farming couple in Shropshire have gone as far as allowing their animals into their home, rather than letting them perish in the water.

Tony and Liz Dawson are currently sharing their home with 130 sheep and 25 buffalo calves - a decision they made after losing a number of animals to the floods submerging their land.

"What can you do? I mean, yes it's a nightmare, but it's saving the stock. You've either got to laugh or cry I think," Mrs Dawson said.

The RSPCA has received a record number of calls about animals stranded because of rising floodwaters, with pets as well as livestock getting into difficulties.

Cat sits out the floods on a roof
A cat takes refuge on a roof
Chris Simpson, an RSPCA chief inspector in the Severn Valley region, said: "It's been very bad for animals.

"Some of my colleagues in Shrewsbury have been out rescuing sheep and cattle.

"Some cattle were spotted actually swimming in the river or part of the flooded field that's flooded recently, and a lot of those actually died."

The charity is urging people to protect pets and livestock from further flooding.

Its regional director for the south-west of England, Jonathan Silk, said that most farmers had acted responsibly and moved their animals from areas near rivers, and places likely to flood.

But he said: "We dealt with a number of incidents in which farmers took a gamble on the weather and did not move their animals."

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