Annual Review 2009
MANCHESTER & SALFORD BRANCH
SURVIVORS OR VICTIMS?
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.
SUMMARY of ACHIEVEMENTS in 2009
*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.
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.
ANIMAL STORIES OF 2009
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.”