CHRISTMAS is a time for relaxation, as well as celebration.

But for the animal care staff and volunteers at the RSPCA animal rescue centre in Ringwood, caring for and looking after animals doesn't stop at Christmas.

They will be working around the clock over the festive period caring for animals in need.

Among the animals being cared for by the RSPCA centre this Christmas is Staffordshire bull terrier Patch.

Playful Patch came into RSPCA care as his owner became ill and was unable to care for him any longer.

Patch is desperate for his second chance at happiness as he finds kennel life quite stressful.

The seven-year-old affectionate Staffordshire bull terrier walks well with other dogs and could live with a family with older children but could not live with cats.

However, Patch is not alone.

He is just one of many animals who is under RSPCA care this Christmas.

The RSPCA’s 17 national animal centres, which include RSPCA Ashley Heath, cared for 1,821 animals on Christmas Day last year and 2,537 animals were taken in throughout the month of December 2018.

RSPCA Ashley Heath Animal Centre cared for 41 dogs, 51 cats, five rabbits and 36 other animals last Christmas and this year expects to be just as busy.

Chief Executive of the RSPCA, Chris Sherwood said: "Christmas is set to be an extremely busy time for the RSPCA once again with nearly two thousand animals cared for on Christmas Day by our national animal centres last year."

He added: "Animals still need our help at Christmas and this year will be no exception. Whilst many people tuck into their Christmas dinners, our dedicated animal centre staff, volunteers, fosterers and branches will be caring for animals round-the-clock over the festive period, making sure they have the comfort, safety and care they need."

This winter, the RSPCA expects to take in more than 10,000 animals in need across England and Wales.

It costs around £670,000 to run an RSPCA centre for a year - funded by donations from the public.

You can make a generous donation to Stock the Sleigh and help animals in RSPCA care.

£7 could keep an animal warm with a soft and cosy blanket.

£15 could give the gift of comfort - a warm blanket, treats and toys.

£25 could give the gift of safety - it could help answer a phone call, provide a safe bed and food.

£40 could give the gift of care - providing essential veterinary care and medicines.

To help the RSPCA deliver vital supplies to thousands of abused, neglected and abandoned animals left out in the cold this Christmas, visit