AN ANIMAL rescue charity has spoken out after being 'inundated' with calls after a photo of dogs being kept outdoors in a Herefordshire garden was posted on social media.

The picture showed two dogs in the snow, one sitting on top of a kennel and one inside the kennel, with the person who posted claiming the dogs were kept outside for 24 hours a day.

Hamnish-based Hereford and Worcester Animal Rescue said they had been "absolutely inundated" with messages and calls about the welfare of the two small dogs after the photograph appeared on Facebook.

But, the charity said, they are unable to step in and the authorities have been notified.

"We unfortunately have absolutely no powers to remove these dogs from the property," a spokesperson for Hereford and Worcester Animal Rescue said.

"We know that the RSPCA are aware of the situation so we remain very hopeful that after all of the social media attention something can be done as soon as possible.

"We are ready and willing to welcome the two dogs into our care if the owners are willing to relinquish them to us.

"We would highly recommend that people avoid confronting the owners or visiting their property.

"We are sure that the RSPCA will be responding to last night's situation with a matter of urgency and will keep ourselves updated with the ongoing situation.

"We completely understand the anger and upset the social media posts have caused to many of you but please refrain from posting violent and aggressive comments on this post.

"Please do not comment any details about the owners or property."

Members of the public have shared their concerns with the RSPCA, but a spokesperson for the animal charity said no law is being broken.

"Unfortunately, it is not illegal to keep a dog outside as long as their needs are being met," the charity said on Twitter.

"This can be frustrating for us too but it means that even if conditions are not ideal, if there is no law being broken then I'm afraid there is nothing we can do."

But in a separate tweet it said: "We appreciate your concerns - it’s upsetting to see animals kept in a way we wouldn’t endorse.

"We can't comment further on this for legal reasons but would like to reassure people that we are looking into this. Please remember that we're a charity with no legal powers."

According to the RSPCA website, keeping dogs outside is not necessarily an offence if they are provided with certain essentials.

"While we will always respond to complaints that are made to us, if no laws are being broken our ability to act on a report is limited," a statement on the RSPCA website says. 

"Currently, if a dog kept outside is provided with a kennel, the law is not necessarily broken.

"This, of course, can be very frustrating for us and for members of the public in certain situations, but we, of course, must always act within the confines of the law. However, if you are worried that a dog may be suffering neglect or abuse, please don't hesitate to get in touch via our national cruelty line.