Sunday, 28 November 2010

One Out of Two

WARNING: this blog contains distressing information.

I have learnt first hand this week how sick and depraved some people can be. It has disturbed me greatly to have been, albeit indirectly, involved in two shocking cases of animal cruelty.

Just over a week ago a call came through to the office to report an animal emergency. I had to redirect it to the national helpline, as of course we are just the local branch and have no jurisdiction over the inspectorate operation, but in the process I got to hear the distress of the person who had found such a sickening sight.

The next day one of the inspectors rang me to ask if we could help fund treatment and take in the animal concerned and the true horror of what was found was revealed. A kitten, clearly suffering with some kind of skin allergy, had been bound up on its legs with duct tape, presumably to stop it bothering at its skin. The kitten had been dumped in some undergrowth with a plastic liner from a cereal packet intentionally wrapped around its head; presumably left to suffocate or freeze to death.

The tape had been bound around the legs for some time, and it was uncertain as to whether kitten could be saved. I got the news on Wednesday that kitten could not be saved because the tape on the legs had caused the tendons to rupture. Leg amputation was not an option because of it being both legs. This poor little mite had suffered unimaginably and experienced nothing short of misery.

The same day we were asked to take in a 6 week old puppy. I can't reveal the whole story but I went to meet puppy the next day. He is a gorgeous little bundle and the inspector investigating the case has decided to adopt him, which is wonderful, and certainly a softener to the evidence that was found on his tummy of cigarette burns. In total there was probably 5 or 6 burn marks all around his tummy/genitalia. The image was shocking but not as shocking as to know that this innocent, helpless, dependent puppy was treated in such a sickening and depraved manner. It really is unintelligible and the image will no doubt stay with us all for some time.

It's such a sad fact that we live in a society capable of such horrors on innocent lives.

This week has thankfully had some high points and we have seen an upturn in animal adoptions and several of our gorgeous furries have been reserved and gone to new homes. We also took in Maddy this week, pictured above in Mel's foster care with Dolly (her lab) and Jake (who she adopted after his terrible battle for life). Maddy's story is a little unclear but essentially domestic violence was part of her back-story. Maddy was absolutely petrified when she arrived, she had never been walked and we had to carry her if, and when, she allowed us too. But Jake proved to be just the tonic she needed and she has very quickly come out of herself. It will be wee while before we can put her up for adoption, as there are few things to work through but hopefully we will find her the perfect home for Christmas.

Next week will be a busy one again, with preps for our Xmas Fair and Free Pet Health Clinic on Sat 4th December. I'm really looking forward to it but still need home made cakes donating or else I'm going to be up all Friday night baking and my repertoire only extends to flapjacks! Please keep everything crossed for a successful event as we need the money so much, having seen yesterday our vet bill for November is nearly £3k. I'd also like to say a thank you to someone for their kind cheque donation toward the Xmas Fair - you know who you are and I'm very grateful to you for being so thoughtful and supportive.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Sunday Dog Walk

I've just received these beautiful pictures in my inbox of our dogs enjoying their walk yesterday. Aren't they just fantastic. Thank you to the fabulous Sunday walkers for braving all weathers to walk the pooches - they all look so happy.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Have you ever heard a rabbit scream?

Not many people know that rabbits can scream. Admittedly it is rare and I've only heard it a couple of times in my lifetime, thankfully, because they only do it under extreme duress and it really is the most chilling thing to hear.

Sadly, one of only two experiences of this happened in the early hours of Sunday morning from the big fella, George, I had brought home to nurse as he was a new case admission in a very very bad way. Thankfully my husband was up and went to him straight away and sat and calmed him down, only for him to pass away a few minutes later. I had take him to the vets the next day for an autopsy so cause of death could be determined and hopefully help strengthen the case - the only saving grace in his needless suffering .

Following this I couldn't face taking little old lady grub to the vets so I cancelled the appointment. I confess to having fallen in love with her and just wasn't feeling able to make any kind of 'rational' decision. Having talked her case through with the vet I took her in the next day, and I'm so glad I did because a large mass was found in the womb area. She was too ill and old to be operated on (she had breathing difficulties too) so fate took the decision out of my hands. I really had fallen for that little mite and just wanted to give her every chance, but as I say, the decision proved not mine to make. But it does make you wonder how she ever became 'stray' in the first place given how frail she was.

Sadly, it didn't end there. One of our bunnies from another case we dub 'The Allotment 6' was showing signs of needing another dental - she was averaging one every 4 weeks but now it was barely 3 weeks - and she was very clearly suffering and developing a tooth root abscess. The decision was taken to end her suffering because it was just so unkind to keep her going, and thankfully, because the alleged owner is denying ownership of our girl Chloe we could be safe to go ahead and do this. How crazy is this, really? It certainly is an aspect of the rescue side that I find deeply frustrating.

And to top it off on the rabbit front, the new group from last week have all got mites so it's a 'here we go again.....'

The week has also brought loads of new admissions and I am delighted to introduce to you little Biff (pcitured above). He was found in the subway at Salford precinct and is barely 4 months old. He has clearly been owned cos he is very sociable but quite why anyone would be letting a little fluff out to play so young is beyond me. Anyhow, he is safely in our care and beginning to settle into quite a little cutie pie!

We also admitted this week four cats and two dogs and we are expecting more next week - not that we have any space; I'll worry about it next week. Animal adoptions have dropped right off and it is a huge worry cos as if we don't find homes we can't take more in and with Christmas coming up it is only going to get worse. We could really do with a miracle on so many levels but despite all this we still feel quite buoyant.

On Sunday we had a microchipping event in Flixton and the response was simply phenomenal - we chipped 106 animals in just 2.5 hours. The response really took us by surprise and we didn't have the staffing levels to cope with so many numbers, but we got through it reasonably unscathed, just shattered!

So, we are turning our thoughts to our last fundraiser of the year - a combined free pet health clinic and xmas fayre on Sat 4th Dec. It should be heaps of fun and we are really looking forward to it but I'm having the usual struggle to find enough volunteers and cake bakers but it'll will work out on the day, I'm sure, and we have been getting together some fantastic stalls and games so I really do think it will be alright on the day. Just need to make sure we make as much money as possible to pay the bills.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Woo Hoo!

Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!

Last night was our Madhatter's Tea Party and we had the most brilliant time. We had a full house and raised £500 on the night and at the end of the variety acts we all danced the night away with our friend Kamey's covers band (Metro Squad) and they were awesome. In fact, all the acts were awesome and I am so grateful to each and everyone of them for donating their services for free and helping us to have such a successful night. I'm still on a high from it all!

We also have an end to the dreaded cat flu and we already have mucho plenty cats lined up to fill the spaces. As soon as word got out that we were 'open for business' again the inspectors and RSPCA clinic had filled the pens. It really is so bad again for cat abandonments. And what is even stranger is the number of kittens we are taking in still - having been found abandoned/stray etc. Even our vet Matt was saying he is seeing queens in season still. I have no idea what is going on but I have never known anything like it. Usually, from November through to March/April time there simply are no kittens but this week we have been inundated.

The other good news is that we have found a home for Bella and Jacob thanks to the blog and one of our wonderful home visitors, and last night, after 4 months of being in our care, they went to their new home - woo hoo! Just the best thing ever.

Other good rehoming news - our pup that was abandoned with a broken leg was finally given the all clear to be rehomed and went on his merry way to a very special new home. Rufus the kitten, abandoned in a cardboard box was rehomed yesterday too and we have a reserve on a very special dog called Thomas. He was never actually listed for adoption because he got snapped up before we got that far. Thomas came into our care because his owner passed away after battling cancer - he is for sure my most favourite dog. Phoebe the cat is going today and soon we hope Zena will too because she is also reserved.

This week we began the enormous task of sorting out our signed over case bunnies ready for adoption. We photographed them all on Friday - thanks Hannah! - and next week begins the major task of relaying them to the vets for neuters, vaccinations, health checks and it is surely going to take much of next week to do. Above is pictured mum Alexis and her babies Violet, Cybil and Pablo. I am quite worried about Pablo cos he seems to have stunted growth and a facial deformity but I feel hopeful for him nonetheless. The majority are rex bunnies and then a couple of lionheads and they are all just absolutely stunning.

Of course, we have had some low points too this week, as you already now, but then we got the devastating blow that 7 of our 27 case bunnies were ones that the owner has chosen not to sign over. This means that we will have them in our care indefinitely whilst the case proceeds and goes to court. They also happen to be some of our favourites too and one of the poor bunnies is needing dentals every 4 weeks. This means this poor little love is going to have to endure ongoing dental problems and repeated risks of anaesthetic whilst the case proceeds, which is just so unfair.

We also had 10 new bunnies arrive on Thursday from a new case. Thankfully 7 seem in good condition, although it is obvious from the staining on their fur that they've been kept in filthy conditions, but sadly 3 are in a bad way. I have one at my house and it is quite tough to see him like this. His future really is not hopeful, at all.

And then the little stray old lady bun we took in last week seems to be really suffering with her tooth roots despite lots of pain relief. She is at my house too. Whilst she is walking better and seeming more perky she just isn't right. I'm off to the vets with her Monday to discuss her prognosis but I'm not hopeful. I feel very much in conflict about her. My heart and head are really battling with each other. I think we are unlikely to be able to help her overcome allher problems and.......well, you get the picture. I really hate having to make decisions about life and death but I know it's coming along again and dreading it again. So for now, I am going to enjoy the week with my little old lady bun and put next week to the back of my mind.

In the meantime I'm going to pray for a small miracle in the shape of lots of new homes for our rescue bunnies.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The last seven days have been shot through with ups and downs.

The best thing by far was receiving more contributions to our rabbit appeal in the form of toys and an amazing cheque donation of £100. We also, last thing on Friday, found out that 417 out of 433 of the North Yorkshire case animals have been signed over. This means that we can soon get on with the task of having our group of 27 kitted out, ready for rehoming. This coming Friday Hannah and I will begin the enormous job of get them all posed and photographed so we can begin the process. Taking photos of bunnies is nowhere near as bad as photographing cats but still requires plenty of bribery in the shape of herb salad! I am actually really looking forward to it because it means that we can do what we do best - rehome animals!

Of course it also has a darker side because a small number are in quite a bad way and the kindest thing is to end the suffering of some of the ones that are in a bad way, and today I have taken Howie and Harrison to the vets to do just that. They had chronic dental disease and we just couldn't keep them going; it was unfair on them. And tomorrow morning I'm taking Bryony, who is incontinent, largely it seems because she has an abnormally small bladder. Further tests have suggested she may have an internal haemorragh too, so again, there is little choice left.

Arguably, for me, it is the putting to sleep animals that we have rescued that is the most difficult. I'm able to say that because I am not an inspector and don't see how badly they were treated originally. But from my role as rehabilitator and rehomer I feel like a failure when we can't give them what they deserve. I am feeling a little low, but I know in my heart that it is the kindest thing to do what we've done, it just hurts knowing we couldn't undo what what was done to these beautiful, innocent souls.

The cat flu is still running its course through the cattery so I can't see us reopening for another week or so. But despite this we have had people visiting and today Zena and Phoebe have been reserved and tomorrow someone is going to visit Harold - the cat flu perpetrator - so please keep everything crossed for him.

We also saw two more dogs go to their new homes this week - Buster the one year old lab cross and collie pup Sophie. They are both real handfuls so I always get quite anxious about them being returned but we will keep everything crossed that it works out for them both.

Last month, despite the closure of the cattery, again, (for ringworm) we still managed to rehome 22 animals, but I'll be honest, I am so worried about the future with all the dramatic government cuts and job losses. Only at the weekend I read that 4 prisons are to close and there will be further massive cuts to the prison service with 8,000 job losses. Where will it end?

We have experienced the effects of the recession first hand for quite some time but this weekend brought it really home to me. We have two gorgeous kittens, Jacob and Bella (pictured), who have been with us since the beginning of July and for some reason they keep being overlooked. We finally had someone lined up for them when they got the awful news that they were being made redundant. Obviously they made the sensible decision to not go ahead with the process of adopting them but I just can't help but think that this is the start of things to come and I'm very worried indeed about the implications on animals.

The last news I want to share is the loss of our baby boy Horace (pictured) under anaesthetic. He was one of seven baby bunnies abandoned in a box and had been happily causing mayhem in my foster care. He went for castration last Thursday and his heart stopped whilst he was under. It was an absolute shock but I couldn't help but feel more sorry for the attending veterinary staff because loosing rabbits under anaesthetic is just so rare to me (we use rabbit specialist vets and Horace is only the 2nd in about 1000 that this has happened to). I don't know if there is anything after death but I do like to picture our animals running free in glorious sunshine and fertile fields - so I hope that Horace, Howie and Harrison are there enjoying the life they should have had.
Let's hope we can make a difference to the animals we can help.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Things that have really touched me

It has been a tough few weeks and things aren't getting any better - the number of animals in our care is up to 85 (51 on the rehoming side and 34 case animals). There is just two of us doing the care side at the moment and it's really hard going but, at the same time, it has been a pleasure to see people offering their help and support, and, above all, expressing their gratitude for what we do. This is so rare to hear, yet so great to hear.

I came into the office today to find a parcel in my name and inside were lots of rabbit enrichment toys. I don't know who sent them in but it was just so great to know that our 'Rabbit Appeal' had touched someone and they had taken the trouble to order and send in some gifts for our case bunnies - I can't wait to give them out tomorrow. Thank you, whoever yo are.

People have been showing their kindness in other ways too - we have been inundated with offers of homes for Little Tess, pictured above. I swear, we could have rehomed her 50 times over and all over the UK too. I'm pleased to say she went to her new home on Friday.

I was also at one of adopter's homes last week after having taken her baby boys for neutering. She absolutely blew me away when she said she wanted to make a donation to our work and subsequently wrote out a cheque for £300. This has never happened to me before. It was amazing.

And then, on Saturday, anonymously through the post arrived a cheque for £500. Now that has never happened before, either. Just fantastic.

I have, of late, been seeing some amazing acts of kindness and this afternoon two more came along.

Firstly, I got a call from a lovely guy who we helped in late August when he had exhausted all possibilities of finding somewhere for his beloved dog to go following the breakdown of his relationship and being made homeless. He faced the very real possibility of putting to sleep his beloved dog because nowhere could help him after 4 weeks of trying. We took his dog into our care. Missy was her name and she was the most beautiful spirit.

We were lucky to rehome Missy in matter of weeks. And after a month of being in her new home her new family sent us through some wonderful photos of her settled in. The pictures spoke a thousand words so I printed them off and sent them to Missy's former owner - hoping with crossed fingers that the address we had on file would see him get the comfort he was no doubt longing for - to know that his girl was happily rehomed.

He was so pleased we'd sent him the photos that he rang up to thank us. He said he would treasure them forever and that not a day had gone by without him wondering and worrying about how she was doing. His gratitude was immense and his relief evident and he has pledged to help us help other dogs in need with regular contributions once he is back on his feet in the new year. And, what's more, I really do believe he will, and, I suspect our dogs will be enjoying some lovely treats before Christmas too.

I am so grateful to Missy's 'dad' for showing me a different side to human kind that was so genuine and compassionate. I really hope he can find peace in his heart now and rest easy that his girl has found a very wonderful forever home. (You can see pictures and an update of Missy on our website).

The last thing I want to share with you is about the future adopters of our puppy Frankie. Our lad was abandoned with a fractured leg. In fact, it was well into the healing process by the time he was dumped and now he faces an uncertain future with his leg as he is still struggling to weight bare and the leg muscle has atrophied. The nature and location of the fracture meant that to intervene with surgery would have been even more harmful. Frankie has been with his foster mum for 6 weeks and has another two weeks before he is due another check up. During this time one of the foster mum's friends has fallen in love with him and today they passed their home visit with flying colours.

Frankie's new owners have told us that no matter what the outcome is with his leg they still want him and they will do all they can to help him with whatever he needs - physiotherapy, hydrotherapy - absolutely anything at all. They have really fallen for him. They visit him daily and have already been out and bought him £200 worth of goodies!

So, whilst it maybe tough going at the moment, it is inspiring to know what love and support there is out there for animals, and I just want to thank everyone who cares, supports us and helps us out because we surely could not do this without your compassion and love.