'Rescue owl' in Aberdeenshire was a garden ornament

image captionThe owl turned out to be an ornament

The Scottish SPCA was called out to rescue an owl in Aberdeenshire - but it turned out to be a garden ornament.

The animal charity received the anonymous call on Tuesday, but found the owl was a realistic plastic garden water feature.

The Scottish SPCA said it could have been a genuine call, or a prank.

Chief Inspector John Carle said: "We do tend to have a giggle about this sort of thing, as investigating cruelty is normally stressful and upsetting."

He added: "I had a feeling as soon as I approached the property that something wasn't quite right.

"The front garden contained a number of ornaments and decorative features and when I spoke to the occupant she took me to the rear of the house where the owl in question was being stored.

image captionA previous scare was caused by what was thought to be a snake

"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 one of our animal rescue officers was called after a resident found a snake in her loft. It turned out that the snake was in fact part of a fancy dress costume left there by a previous tenant.

"We also had an instance where we were called to rescue a baby alligator from a roundabout, which 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 added: "On a serious note, we are receiving a huge volume of callouts 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."

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