Today, we are more than a charity: we are a social movement, with a passionately committed workforce, and around 149 affiliated branches across England and Wales. In recent years, we’ve also made meaningful progress in addressing the relationship between the abuse of family members and animals – a connection first identified by William Wilberforce, one of our founders.
Our strategic aim is to decrease the need for our intervention, by influencing people to change the way they behave towards animals and thus reducing demand. And the COVID lockdown didn't prevent us: our frontline officers, animal carers and vets have continued to rescue, treat and care for animals in need. There were more than a million calls to our rescue line last year, our frontline officers looked into almost 100,000 complaints of animal cruelty, and we have taken in no fewer than 23,000 animals since the end of March 2020.
As we strive to make the Society the very best it can be, we are looking inwards as well as outwards. Over the past two years, we have implemented an extensive and thoughtful programme of modernisation and renewal, to ensure we will continue to be there for all animals long into the future. We are modernising the way we do things: our vision is ambitious and progressive and our programme of change is making rapid and effective progress in transforming the Society. In particular, we have worked hard to transform our governance and create a modern, nimble board of trustees which will stand us in good stead as we take on the challenges of growing pet ownership and high demand for our vital animal welfare services. This transformation of our governance is just one part of a programme of work to ensure we are in a strong position for the future.
In 2020, we announced plans to restructure some of our services and facilities in order to set us on a manageable course for the coming decade. Though this has involved a number of difficult and unwelcome decisions, we believe that it is only by facing up to the changing operating environment that we can be confident of being here for all animals, and for the long term. We are an organisation with a clear, defining mission and a staff who passionately share our sense of purpose. We recognise that everything we achieve is underpinned by the passion, talent and sheer determination of our people, who are dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals.