Saturday, 30 January 2010

Friends in Need

This is Tinker, and I love her with all my heart. The poor girl has been with us since August and she is our longest stay cat resident. The national RSPCA has kindly put an appeal on their website to help us find her a home. So I hope it works. Check her story by following the link.

So, I think this week can be officially rated as the worst week of the year so far. Now I know that there haven't been that many weeks yet, but I doubt it will be topped in a hurry.

Our charity's fortunes are simply not improving and rehomings are at an all time low. In fact, I'd be surprised if we reached double figures this month. It is incredibly demoralising having animals wait longer than average to be rehomed and to have to turn so many animals away, like today, when the animal hospital asked us to take in an abandoned mum and kittens.

We simply had to say no because we are desperately trying to keep animal numbers to 40, having had to make a cut of 50% over the last few months. This time last year we probably had closer to 90 animals in our care, but we just cannot afford the costs involved for that many animals any more. It is proving incredibly hard as we have a number of cats in foster care with long term health problems that simply cannot be rehomed yet - 'bed blocking' I guess! We also have bunnies that have been with s a while and continue to be overlooked. And then there are the dogs...

Well, on that front it is has been a huge mix of emotions this week. We have three new ones, two of which are finding kennel life a struggle. One in particular is in a real heightened state of anxiety and so we are doing all sorts to help him, but to see him like this is so heart wrenchingly sad. But then this weekend we have 5 different people booked in to see 5 of our dogs! We had 3 bookings last week but not one came off, so I'm not getting my hopes up just yet, but surely 1 will be a go-er??!

But the real reason this week has been so awful is because the charity has had to notify the staff that they have to make staff redundancies in order to survive. Breaking the news was pretty rough, but not half as awful as it must have been to learn your post is effected. We start the 'consultation process' next week but if no alternatives arise then a number of staff will leave at the end of March. I feel selfish saying I felt shitty having to do this, because my feelings pale into insignificance compared to what the staff must be going through, knowing that they maybe out of a job soon.

It is such a sad, sad sign of the times. I know that we are not the only charity/business having to do this (the national RSPCA has had to make a lot of redundancies too) but many of the people I work with I have known for years and it is a horrible thing to have to do people you care about. Many are being very brave and understanding but I know that really they feel angry and hurt. They want the charity to survive as much as the rest of us but it doesn't stop it from being really horrible. There simply is no other options to save money now except on staffing, it was always a last resort, having explored and implemented other options already, and I can only say how sorry and sad I am.

Even if the recession has been declared as officially over this week, I think it could be months, if not years, before we recover from the impact. For the time being, I would just be happy if Tinker found herself a home.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Rabbit Milk - Under the Radar

Yesterday morning I was greeted by the horror that rabbits are being farmed in Holland for their milk for some vague excuse of saving humans from dying. Aside from the fact that we are all going to die, and I just don't get our obsession with trying to under do nature's way, the idea of farming a rabbit for it's milk is just repugnant and so I had to share it with you.

I got sent a link to listen to a report about it on Farming Today on BBC Radio. In the report was news that mice have been 'milked' too. I urge you to check it out at:
scroll to around 11 minutes and 15 seconds in and you've got it.

If, by the time you read this the link is gone then try this newspaper article:

I swear this is no April Fool, it really is man and science gone revoltingly wrong, again.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Queensland is Killing Bunnies!

I'm up in the middle of the night again with too much running around my head and a very lousy cold that keeps drowning me in the nasal excretions! I thought I would make myself useful and play on email and Facebook and low and behold I learn of the animal atrocities taking place in the so-called civilised country that is Australia.

The state of Queensland has made it illegal to own a pet rabbit. Anyone caught with one will be fined AUS$30k and have their beloved companion put to sleep. This is all because the farmers, especially, have a problem with wild critters eating crops and spreading disease. But this is restrcted to wild rabbits and certainly ahs buggar all to do with domestic pet rabbits, especially if they are neutered and vaccinated. Moreover, they could not exist in the wild if they were let loose - they'd be eaten!

Can you imagine if you shared your life with a bunny and it fell ill and you couldn't seek treatment to help them? I genuinely can't. My bunnies are my life, they are reason why I do this job.

Still don't get it? Well, above are pics of just some of the bunnies I have shared my home and heart with over the last few years - now try agreeing that they should be euthanized.

Please sign the petition at:

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Circle of Life

Ooo, that title is a bit deep for a Sunday morning! I was trying find a way to express my strange feelings today cos after 3 months of looking after 2 of the most amazing characters - my foster kittens Petey & Meg - they have finally gone to a new home together. Three previous homes had fallen through for them and so the longer they stayed with me the more we all became horribly attached and they took over my life, with my permission, of course!

The house is horribly quiet now and I did cry. But what is so wonderful is that they have gone to live on a farm and they will enjoy a life that I could never have given them, which really softens the loss, but I don't half miss them.

One of our dogs Mojo went to her new home yesterday too with one of our friends' mum. (Only the 2nd animal to be rehomed this year - things are desperate). Her new mum is apparently smitten, even though Mojo widdled on the carpet yesterday. But to be fair she travelled all the way to Nottingham for her new life and was probably just very excited! Mojo has had a tough time and so we hope she behaves herself and makes herself a home for life, but you never know with our lot. Tusk!

So, as one dog goes out it means that we have space to take in a new one and on Saturday that's exactly what we did - no messing around! Well, let's face it, there is never a shortage of animal neglect/cruelty/abandonment.

So, I am delighted to introduce to you our newbie (piccie above). Names on a postcard please!

My friend Hannah was at the kennels yesterday photographing the dogs so we can put lovely new pictures on websites to promote them. His images came through as 'newbie' - so either we haven't got a name for him yet or Hannah doesn't know it. The poor lad has come into our care because his owner wasn't looking after him well enough - he is quite underweight, bless him. One of our Inspectors persuaded his owner that his dog could have a better life than the one he was being given and he agreed to sign him over.

I love staffies, and I bet 'newbie' is every bit as fabulous as I think he will be. Anyone who takes him on though will have to put lots of high factor sun lotion on his face and he could also yet prove to be deaf. I will keep you posted on how he gets on, but I just thought you would like to meet 'Newbie'.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Down but not defeated

We have had a really disappointing day today at out first pet health clinic of the year. Usually we see an average of 120-140 animals attend our free pet health clinics but today only 17 turned up! I wouldn't mind so much but it cost well over £400 to stage.

The only things we have done differently is to charge £3 for microchipping, where as before it was free, but we just can't afford to do it for free any more. And we also didn't leaflet local houses this time cos of the weather, but even so we had a piece in the newspaper, posters everywhere and internet ads. In fact we had more phone calls and emails about the event than we did animals turn up!

Well, I suppose you just can't win them all and I do think the icy roadsa nd pavements probably didn't help either, but it sure does feel like a bit of a punch in the stomach, especially when every penny really counts these days and you want to spend it wisely. But at least we made use of our exotics vet with the attendance of a carpet snake and a beautiful lop eared bunny.

Well, let's hope the next one in Old Trafford sees a better response. In case you want to come along it is on Saturday 13th Feb 12- 4 at Old Trafford Community Centre on Shrewsbury Road. There will free vet health checks, including an exotics vet, microchipping for £3 and us lot looking pretty!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Rehomed Animals Update 2

So, onto my favourite subject of all ....bunnies!

Check these fluff balls out.

The little lady on her ownsome is called Pencil now, but was formerly Leah. This picture makes me smile so much because this little girl was a freaked out monster and now look at her! She was abandoned along with 5 other rabbits in Tatton Park. She was bitten all over and very scared, seemingly having been kept in close proximity to other rabbits, all of which unneutered
Her new mum reports that when she first arrived she was too scared to come out of her litter tray but now, just after a few weeks, she hops onto their laps for dinner and is even beginning to tolerate strokes.

How rewarding is that. I love bunnies.

And check the pair of mischief makers out! they are Buddy and Cleo. They were born in August after their mum was found running stray along the gardens of Princess Parkway with 4 other rabbits. She gave birth to 8 kittens and they all survived! We still have Dandelion and Kiwi waiting for homes.

Buddy & Cleo's family absolutely adore their babies and we get regular updates and fantastic pictures.

It really makes our day getting to here how everyone is getting on. Over Christmas I even got a dvd of one of my kittens, all grown up, playing with his matey. We also had lots of written updates and photos and some very generous donations too. I am so grateful to everyone who supports us , but above all, please keep sending those pictures cos it really keeps us motivated (Catherine especially gets excited and I save them up to show her them all in one go!).

Rehomed Animals Update 1

My biggest excitement of all this week has to be pictures of Roma that came through.

I'm sure most of you will recall our desperate plight to find her a home. She spent a year as a 'case animal' whilst her owners were prosecuted for starving her close to death, and then she spent a further 10 months with us waiting for that elusive forever home.

I'm not sure you could ever say that the wait was worth it but what is just so amazing is seeing how wonderfully happy she is in her new home. We are so grateful to her mum and dad for taking the trouble to photograph her and send us these pics.

We love Roma!

White out

I have been frustrated at not being able to get to my blog sooner this week. So much to share and tell so I may now have to do several mini blogs so you can see all the fab piccies I am bursting to share.

The snow has been a real challenge this week but I am loving it! There has only been one day when we haven't been mobile and that was Tuesday, the first day of the snow, but the rest of the time I have been bobbing around in my hubbies 4 wheel drive campervan driving to the animals to do pick ups and drop offs.

Where our bunnies are, up in Hazel Grove, is near to Woodford, which recorded record low temp one night this week of minus 17.8 degrees. I was expecting to get a call about a frozen rabbit or two but they are all doing well with lots of extra hay and snuggle boxes.

The dogs are keeping warming in their kennels by being kept shut out of their runs and having the heating on - rather that then they freeze. And the cats are all snuggley warm cos they have heat pads in their beds so all in all we are doing fine.

The snow is, of course, seriously effecting 'business' and we have only had one adoption this year and that was for pretty kitty cat called Pudding who came into us all bedraggled and cold the day after Boxing Day. I took her to her new home yesterday (because of the road conditions) and it was just magic to see hers and the children's and the adults' utter delight at her arrival. I could have stayed all night marvelling at their happiness but of course I couldn't! It really made my week and I am so happy Pudding was only with us such a short while.

Another new admission came to us on New Year's Eve and is pictured above - a shitzu cross. Prior to Christmas his owners were issued a warning to get an eye condition treated by a vet, a follow up check on New Year's Eve revealed they hadn't and poor Rudy (we named him after Rudolf) was still suffering. The dog was signed over and we got him to the vets to find him underweight, seriously matter and having an ulcer in each eye. The ulcers are healing nicely and he is being groomed tomorrow, all being well weather wise, and he is going to need 'fake tears' putting in his eyes for the rest of his life because of his breeding he can't lubricate his eye balls well enough when he closes his lids - doesn't mankind have a lot to answer for!

Anyway, Rudy is ace and I am officially a fan! He is 2 years old, and absolute poppet, loves nothing more than a lap to sit on and to be centre of attention. He should hopefully find a home pretty swiftly but he definitely needs company all day long.

So, enough for now and I will start a new one with rehomed animals update.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Annual Review of 2009

Annual Review 2009

January 2010


From our point of view animals have been the hidden victims of the 2009 economic downturn; so many have been abandoned that at times it has beggared belief. At one point a staggering 80% of the animals in our care were admitted as a result of being abandoned by their owners. The notion that we are a ‘nation of animal lovers’ has frequently felt little more than a myth; no more so because of the relentless barrage of calls received from people wanting to relinquish their animals. Without doubt 2009 was heartbreaking, depressing and demoralising and that was just for the staff – imagine how the poor animals felt. Here are some of the animals that came into our care in late 2009:

Tabs’ (pictured in pink ) owner lived in a £250k city centre apartment but when he could no longer pay the bills, and racked up debts that caused him to flee the country, poor Tabs was left locked in the apartment without a care as to what would happen to him. He was desperately underweight by the time he was discovered but Inspector Heaton came to his rescue and brought him into our care where he is now cosy, well fed and awaiting a new home.

Prince was left tied up outside Asda in the freezing cold, patiently waiting for hours for his owner who never returned. Concerned staff and shoppers contacted the RSPCA and Inspector Avery came to Prince’s rescue and he is now waiting for a second chance of life.


*333 Animals Rehomed
Cats = 183
Dogs = 61
Rabbits = 68
Guinea Pigs = 19
Misc = 2

* 12 more than 2008

320 Animals Taken in
Cats = 187
Dogs = 55
Rabbits = 64
Sml Furries = 14

77.5% of the animals admitted came from RSPCA sources*
*such as RSPCA Field Staff, Eccles animal hospital, born in our care, rescued by the branch etc

983 Animals Attended
Free Pet Health Clinics
Dogs = 559
Cats = 264
Rabbits = 104
Reptiles = 48
Sml Furries = 6
Birds = 2
* 382 more than 2008

1352 Owned Animals Receiving Low Cost Microchipping

127 Owned Animals
Neutered for Free

Holly & Mistletoe were discovered by housing officers who were doing a routine check on a vacated property in Wythenshawe. The bunnies were lucky to be alive as they had gone days without any care or attention. Thankfully Inspector Millar came to their rescue and we found room at the inn for them in time for Christmas.

Whilst animal rescues were up, rehoming figures were down, which severely worsened an already difficult situation. With fewer animals being adopted there were fewer spaces to take in new admissions and the strain of it all began to take its toll by Summer time, by which point cat rehomings were down by 25%.

An S.O.S. to the local media secured the branch much needed attention, including extensive TV coverage, which stood us in good stead and helped buoy things up for us all. However, our finances had also begun to suffer by this point and we had to begin the onerous task of reducing our animal numbers by half to try and stem the flow.

The financial situation never improved, it simply worsened. By July we had to repay an overpaid legacy to the sum of £70,000 and in early December we learnt that the £40,000 worth of stocks and shares bequeathed to the branch over the years were now worth little more than £10,000. So sadly, we start 2010 facing a massive overhaul of our operations to ensure the future of the branch.

However, a ray of sunshine amongst all this gloom is the news that the branch won a £5k grant to continue the delivery of community pet health clinics during 2010. We are hugely grateful to the national RSPCA for recognising our good work in this area and look forward to the helping even more animals and their owners in need.


Microchipping - the branch won the RSPCA North Region Award for Microchipping Promotion for 2008 because of a 55% increase in activity on 2007. We hope to win it again for 2009 as we have a 251% increase in activity on 2008!

Rabbit Welfare – due to persistent welfare issues in the North Region rabbits were chosen as the regional campaign topic for 2009. The Manchester & Salford Branch, along with Anne Corbishley from the national RSPCA, led the campaign to promote and encourage participation in ‘Rabbit Action Week’ on 30th March to 5th April.

The Branch designed, funded and distributed promotional welfare packs to all veterinary surgeries, major pet store chains and RSPCA branches and animal centres in the North Region. The Branch also funded 3 rabbit welfare training courses for 30 RSPCA Field Staff.

Campaign outcomes:
Ø 50% of the region’s 45 branches took part in the campaign.
Ø 16 branches held ‘awareness days’ that saw 525 rabbits attend for free M.O.T.s (Manchester & Salford had the highest attending figures of 88 rabbits in one day).
Ø Other branches either offered advice to rabbit owners and/or free or discounted neutering and microchipping.

Safety Cat Collar Promotion -
As the Branch began to see an average of one cat a month with nasty collar injuries the staff decided we need to tell cat owners all about the problem.
It is essentially the elasticised collars that cause the problems because the ‘give’ enables the cat to get its paw/leg stuck inside the collar, which can then result in horrific injuries if undetected. So this is what we did:
Ø Gave all our home visitors a collar with a quick release ‘safety buckle’ to demonstrate to potential cat adopters.
Ø Designed promotional leaflets for use at events and in adoption packs.
Ø At our free pet health clinics we removed all offending collars and educated the owners.
Ø Held a cat only health clinic and gave away 65 free collars, courtesy of Ancol.
Ø Challenged local vets to only sell safety cat collars.
Ø Gave a presentation at the RSPCA’s Animal Centre Managers’ Conference called Cat Collars – a Pain in the Neck!
The national RSPCA has since issued a memo about cat collars to all RSPCA staff in support of our good work.


Catherine’s Dog Ben
Ben came into our care in March when his terminally ill owner could no longer look after him. Ben is our longest stay dog and is still waiting for a home after all these months. Catherine tells us why she loves Ben so much.

“It is true to say that Ben and I have a strong bond with one another and I really do love him. I love him so much because of his enthusiasm for life. Ben loves to play and charge around, he loves is teddies too and is ever so affectionate. Ben is great with other dogs and hasn’t got a bad bone in him.

I love his demanding, cheeky ways such as when he barks for his toy to be thrown or given to him! I think Ben gets overlooked because of his grey hair, which makes him look older than he is which is approx 7. I really hope he finds a home for life very soon because it is heartbreaking seeing him live his life out in kennels.”

Susie’s Itsy & Bitsy Bunnies
A man turned up at our Chorlton shop with a cardboard box saying he had been driving around for 2 hours trying to find somewhere to leave the rabbits. He said the children had taken them off the neighbours 2 weeks previously but weren’t bothering to look after them and wanted rid. We peered in and found 2 very frightened bunnies, one with a lump on the side of her face the size of plum; the man denied all knowledge saying they were his kids rabbits.

Little Itsy’s lump was one of the worst tooth root abscesses we had ever seen, and was a culmination of weeks of suffering and chronic dental disease as a result of poor diet. Itsy never recovered from the infection and after 4 months of battling we made the difficult decision to put her to sleep.

To this day I am saddened by her plight and fear that we will never overcome the notion of rabbits being seen as “children’s pets”. Bitsy (right) is still waiting for a new home and won’t tolerate another bunny for companionship now.

Jo’s Cat Frankie
Frankie’s story is nothing short of tragic; her owner was found dead several days after having fallen down the stairs with her newborn baby in her arms. The baby was miraculously still alive and was quickly admitted to intensive care.
Frankie was found at the home cowering behind a bin, heavily pregnant and in a very frightened state. Inspector Strangwood brought her to us, though we had nowhere for her to go. She lived in our office, holding on to her babies, until a foster home became available. Soon after she gave birth to 5 strapping boys and proved to be the most amazing mum ever. She gave them everything she had and was so incredibly nurturing and protective of them and despite being fed loads she was reduced to nothing as her greedy boys guzzled up huge amounts of milk and were still going at 8 weeks of age!

When Frankie’s babies were rehomed she seemed glad to finally enjoy attention of her own, even though she thought nothing of letting you know when she had had enough!

Jo really fell in love with Frankie because of her fiercely protective mothering instincts and her strong attitude. Sadly it took quite some time for Frankie to find a new home but Jo was delighted with the outcome as she explains, “Frankie was offered a home with a friend of one our volunteers. It is a fantastic home and she is spoilt rotten being regularly fed fresh fish and meat. It seems that Frankie has retained the cattitude that I fell in love with and has claimed her favourite spot on the sofa. I really could not have wished for a happier ending for her.”