A group of teenagers spat in the face of an RSPCA officer as she rescued a swan and shouted “have corona bitch”, the animal charity has said.
Welfare officer Leanne Honess-Heather was trying to help the bird, which had got tangled in a fishing line, when five youths aged around 16 approached her.
The incident happened on Saturday close to Rush Lyvars Fishing Lake in Hedon, Hull, when the group came over to see what Ms Honess-Heather was doing, as she struggled with the swan on her own.
Ms Honess-Heather asked them to stand back, which appeared to annoy the youths, she said.
“They seemed to take offence to this, which led to two of the group spitting directly into my face, going in my mouth and eyes, as they yelled ‘have corona bitch’ at me,” she said.
“Like many other frontline services, most of my team are still out during this crisis, trying our best to continue to do our job, tending to, collecting and rescuing injured animals.
“It’s really challenging working in these difficult conditions and we are doing our very best to keep ourselves and the public safe, while helping the animals who most need us, so this was a really upsetting experience.”
The swan had no longer-term injuries after being cut free from the line, and was released after being checked out by a vet.
The RSPCA said it was providing an emergency-only service to animals through the coronavirus crisis in the wake of Government advice.