Sunday, 30 January 2011


It's been a good week for a number of animals who we had feared the worse for - Gregory the bunny, Twiglet the kitten and Sian the dog. All three had varying health 'problems' but after investigation (a lot in Sian and Twiglet's case) the suspected health problems turned out to be either insignificant or ok. The relief for us all is enormous.

There just simply isn't anything worse than having to make a decision about the life of an animal (unless of course they are very obviously suffering) and it is something we all deeply loathe doing. Thankfully this time it has all worked out and we will be able to find them homes soon - it is such a relief, and a triumph and makes all the worrying (and cost) worthwhile. No, actually, it what it really makes you feel is that you are doing your job: helping to successfully rehabilitate animals most in need, and it doesn't get much better than that.

This week has also been a great triumph for our guinea pig Caesar. He was rescued from a home of over 430 animals and had had little or no handling and was a completely freaked out, skittish little fella. He lived with his brother (and best mate) and they seemed content together. But, tragically, his brother Dante had a stroke and died at the beginning of the month leaving a very frightened Caesar alone. We gave him a couple of weeks to adjust and then had him castrated to increase his chances of finding a new friend.

I am delighted to share that Caesar has been given the break that he deserves and has found himself a wonderful new home and is leaving us today! We are ever so grateful to his new adopter for giving him such a wonderful new home and the chance to be happy, finally.

We opened our doors to a number of new animals this week - 2 kittens, 4 cats and 1 dog.
One pretty surprise was a cat called Clover. She is only about a year old and suspected to have been in an RTC and had clearly been coping with a terrible leg fracture for sometime because the leg had quite bad muscle wastage from lack of weight bearing. Can you imagine how awful it must have been for her coping with such a terrible injury?

Thankfully a member of the public found Clover and called the national RSPCA helpline and on Monday she had her leg amputated. Now, I just assumed it was a back leg, but when I collected her on Thursday I was surprised to find it was a front leg that had been removed. It made me realise that I don't think we've ever taken in a cat with a front leg amp before, only dogs. How strange, huh?

Clover is a little overwhelmed by her ordeal at the moment but is coming round and beginning to adjust to her change in circumstances (in more ways than one) and hopefully, soon, we will be able to find her a home as a house cat (to minimise the chances of any other RTCs now that she is less mobile). One thing is for sure, I know we will do our best by her.

Pictured above is Ruben. He was in such a state that it was difficult to watch, as he trembled with such abject fear on his first day in our care on Friday. His owner had died and was left with a family member who was unable to care for him due to having Alzheimer's. Catherine collected him in the morning and he was so petrified that we couldn't get near him to do anything other than vaccinate him. He is only 12 months old and was frightened of his own shadow.

Catherine called me to tell me how bad he was and how we just couldn't put him in kennels. This, of course, left us in a desperate panic because we don't have any dog fosterers at present due to ringworm and bereavement, so panic set in! But thankfully, not for long, because our friend Sue jumped at the chance of fostering him and in less than 24 hours she has performed miracles with the little lad and he has settled in really well. We are now feeling a lot more hopeful for him and there is every chance we will be able to rehome him sooner rather than later. Please keep everything crossed for the wee chappy and hope that he continues to blossom.

The last challenge of the week has been event organising! This is something I really enjoy doing and usually find quite straightforward, but I have to confess I am stumped with a particular one we are keen to do and so I'm appealing for help, please!

National Vegetarian Week is w/c 23rd May and we want to do a 'Veggie Grub and Booze Tasting Night' during that week. It turns out it is also Chorlton Arts Festival week so I can't find any suitable, available venues in that area. If anyone has any suggestions for venues in the Sth Mcr or city centre area (that are in our catchment area) I would be so grateful to hear from you. My brain is bored of me thinking about it so much so please rescue it!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Fear and Loathing in South Manchester!

This week has felt oddly positive. I can't nail precisely why, and we surely don't have any major reasons for feeling that way, but it does feel positive. I wonder then, whether it isn't so much 'relief' that I'm experiencing?

This we week we formally announced to our staff and volunteers the branch's decision to make more cutbacks to try and get through the year and beyond. I suppose the difficulty lies in accepting how bad things really are, coupled with the reality of having to say 'no' and take in less animals.

For going on nearly 3 months we have seen charity shop sales drop by up to £2000 a month, as shoppers seemingly have less disposable income than they used to. That in itself means we just cannot afford to maintain operations at the level they are at now. Let's face it, that amounts to £24,000 a year, so we have had to take action to safeguard our future.

Consequently, it was reluctantly decided to reduce our kennel spaces to just 6, halve the number of cats in foster care, close to rabbit and guinea pig admissions and scale right back on our community animal welfare work. The hardest bit for us all is the reduction of animals in our care, but, as many of you know, it is the vet bills that cause us so much trouble financially.

But, rather than feeling despairing about it all, we have reasons to feel optimistic thanks to the level of support and well-wishing we have received as a response to our announcement. I think this is what has made me feel so positive, knowing that we aren't facing this alone and that there are so many branch supporters, and animal lovers, out there to help us in every way that they can. I can't thank each and everyone of you enough for being there for us; it makes all the difference knowing we aren't facing this alone and that people are willing us to succeed. Thank you so much.

The animal rehoming side is also looking up, which you just wouldn't expect with more people facing job losses and cut backs, but there it is. With two bunnies reserved this week, making the total so far this month to 5 - that's more than we rehomed in the last 2 months of last year! And the cats are being snapped up faster than we can get them listed on the website for adoption, which is just fantastic, and possibly an all time record was set on Thursday with Dash the dog being booked for a viewing within less than an hour or two of him featuring on the website! But then, Dash is incredible.

I feel grateful this week, and honoured, to have the wealth of support and help that we do. Our position is not unique, we aren't any more more or less special than any other animal charity fighting hard for furries in need, but what does makes us special are our staff and volunteers and our determination. Thank you all for sticking by us.

Pictured is Floyd the cat in his new home. He won our 2010 Rescue Animal of the Year. When I was emailing with his adopter this week I asked them to give Floyd a belly rub from us all (as this is his favourite thing) and I received this picture in my inbox soon after. I'm still smiling now!

The other thing that has made me grin this week is that our trustee Hannah has agreed to run the Manchester Bupa North Run with trustee Sarah to raise money for our branch. Sarah is a fitness fanatic but Hannah has only just begun her new fitness regime. Hannah has my utmost respect and I'll be cheering from the side lines as they go round.

The last thing I have to share is that I have agreed to do a parachute jump with our volunteer Julie W. to raise money for the branch. If I make this a public announcement I then can't back out of it. So there, it is done! The problem is I have the most almighty fear of heights and the highest I can travel is three rungs up a ladder! But if I can do this I will have earned every bit of sponsorship I raise.

Oh dear goodness what have I done.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


There have been some really great high points to the week that I am determined not to loose sight of. Amongst the great things we have been blessed to experience this week we have:
  • received even more jars of pennies from people (keep 'em coming!)
  • received 4 more cat beds (hooray!)
  • rehomed cats Eve, Molly, Barclay and Dexter, dogs Jessie and Josie and rabbits Beano, Twiglet and Pablo!
  • we received half a pallet-worth of amazing dog treats from Mars - you should see it all, it is amazing! We will probably have enough to last 6 months, maybe even longer. (Nothing like this has ever happened to us before so you can imagine how excited and grateful we are.)
  • had our kennel fees frozen for another year (magic stuff)

But despite these wonderful happenings I have to say this week I feel lost and low. I guess it's because it has been a week of reality biting very hard, again. You see, we have reviewed our financial situation for the year ahead and the truth is we have to make even more cut backs if we are going to survive. Whilst of course this is essential and necessary and the only way we can keep going, the implications of the decisions begin to hit hard when I have to start saying 'no' to the field staff who have just rescued animals.

It also hits hard when we get the vet bill in. You get to see in black and white how much each rescued animal has cost and it is hard to know how to approach conditions that aren't life threatening but are slowly but surely racking up the bills. Like Sian the Chow. She has ongoing urinary issues that we are still trying to get to the bottom of. She is on a specialist food that costs £50 a sack (albeit a large sack) and so far vet costs are at £550. She has yet to be spayed and have her eyes operated on for entropian and the urine situation is still under investigation -so many more cost are on the horizon.

The thing is, you could say 'enough is enough' and put her to sleep, but her health problems are not insurmountable, she is coping really well in kennels and her general health is improving. We all have a strong attachment to her and, after all, wouldn't we then be wasting £600 if we did put her to sleep now? I'm not sure many of us could have it on our conscience, the idea of putting an animal to sleep just because they will cost a lot to rehabilitate from their neglectful pasts, but then this is a reality that shelters up and down the country face on a daily basis.

I was saddened to discover this week that many shelters have to cap spend on vet treatment as little as £150 per animal. We have talked about the idea of a cap many times before but in our hearts we just don't feel able to adopt this approach, after all £150 doesn't go far in vet bills terms at all. Though that is not to say that we don't understand and appreciate why shelters have to do it; I guess we are just fearful of having to do this because the implications are just so harsh. I guess I just feel despairing because there seems no easy way out and with bad news this week about the health of 3 separate cats, hard decisions are on the horizon too.

It has also been a week of animal bereavement for some of our friends this week; Avalanche the bunny, Digger the dog and yesterday Benny Benson bunny. These were all very special animals owned by very dear friends of the branch. We are all so deeply saddened and touched by their loss and send our best wishes and thoughts to their family and this very difficult time.

All three animals were very special furries, each with their own stories to tell that had touched their family and friend's lives in so many wonderful ways. If anything they are testament to why we agonise over things like cutbacks and expenditure so much, because ultimately each and every animal is an individual in their own right with their own uniqueness and life-enhancing qualities.

The age old argument therefore rages on as to whether we try to give the best care to those we take in, or try to help as many as we can on a strict budget but take the consequences that go along with that approach. I remain lost, as ever, on this point of debate, so will leave it with you to consider instead. In the meantime I will look to the week ahead for some hope.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Starting Blocks

Well the first week of the year didn’t start off great, and I have to say I was worried it was a sign of things to come. But the week ended on such a high that it just goes to show what a variable and unpredictable line of work we are in.

The beginning of January was D-Day for two of our bunnies who we had been trying to help overcome dental disease for about 5-6 months. I had a sleepless night before I was due to take them to the vets but remained hopeful. However, it was a shock to find that the one we were most hopeful with was the one we had not been successful with. Her teeth were simply out of control and wouldn’t matter what we did she would need regular dentals for the rest of her life, which of course means two things – putting her through repeated procedures and her unlikely to ever find a home.

Euthanizing a rabbit because of dental disease used to be completely against my principles, but over the years I have come to accept the implications on both the rabbit and the charity. It is just a very horrible, harsh fact of life that there isn’t a bottomless pot of money and an unlimited number of homes out there. I am still stunned that we have so many of beautiful rex bunnies, many of which are still babies, still waiting for homes – in fact we have over 20 adorable bunnies and I cannot for one minute understand why we still have Beano, who has been with us since May last year.

The next day wasn’t anymore fun when I got the call to say Dante the guinea pig had had a stroke. I rushed to get him to the vets but he died along the way. He was in such a mess that it really was the best thing. But knowing that he had been rescued from awful conditions and never found a home sits really uncomfortably. And he also leaves behind his brother Caesar, so next week we will get him castrated to increase his chance of being adopted and paired up with a girl or two.

But despite this shaky start we had some great highs. The best, of course, is always the reserve of animals, and we started the week well! Jessie and Josie the dinky staffie sisters were reserved to live with each other (and leave us next week), then there was Autumn and Harley the cats and Twiglet, Pablo and Eugene bunnies!

We also had quite a few new admissions too – 3 adult cats, 3 tiny 2-3 week old kittens found abandoned in a box and two new dogs. In fact, we have done so well on dog rehoming of late that everyone is so new that they are all still under assessment and we don’t actually have anyone up for adoption yet, which means with Jessie and Josie going we don’t have any dogs available for adoption – that is simply amazing!

But perhaps what has touched me the most this week has been the generosity of people – we had a retired lady give us a chocolate tin full of copper collected over two years, local music shop Johnny Roadhouse collected another box full amounting to £42, we received the most incredible cheque for £530 from local business Swinton Group with a letter explaining that the staff had collected the money for us throughout 2010 – we totally knew nothing about it and were just stunned and delighted.

There was one other surprise that arrived late Friday afternoon, a huge parcel with an anonymous note signed ‘C’. Inside was amazing cat gifts, including a lovely fluffy cat bed in response to our appeal for donations of cat beds. Our gorgeous tiger Sam will be the lucky recipient of the cat bed because he is huge and with love stretching out on it, whilst the 3 hand-rear kittens have got the fleecy blanket to snuggle on and all the cats will get to enjoy the treats that were sent too.

I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped the animals this week, you have renewed my hope for 2011 and the future of our animals.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Annual Review of 2010


2010 has been an incredibly difficult year for the branch as the world wide economic downturn really took hold. At the beginning of the year the branch had to make significant cutbacks and sadly key staff were made redundant. This placed an even greater strain on existing staff and volunteers and it is to their eternal credit that we are still here, providing an even better service than ever before to locally rescued animals. Without their loyalty and dedication to our work we would not be who we are today – and we thank each and everyone one of you for going that extra mile for our animals.

Our veterinary care costs have been at an all time high this year and continue to escalate; perhaps this is an inevitability given that we are taking in ever more animals direct from their point of rescue.

In 2009 77.5% of the animals we took in came from RSPCA generated sources such as RSPCA Field Staff, RSPCA Salford animal hospital, born in our care, rescued by the branch etc. In 2010 this increased to 97%. We are really proud of this achievement and even more grateful to the national RSPCA for 'going public' in May 2010 and announcing that RSPCA rescued animals would take priority above unwanted pets. In so doing our job has been made a lot easier and we have been better able to say 'no' to the the general public when they have wanted to relinquish their animals for routine reasons.

Our income, or lack of, has probably caused us the most consistent amount of stress this year. Across the board income generation has taken such a hit. From charity shop sales, events, donations and legacies we saw less and less money coming in, which resulted in us having to sell some bequeathed stocks and shares to raise much needed funds.

Unfortunately it doesn't look like much will change in 2011 but one thing is for sure - we will keep on fighting! In the meantime let's celebrate what we have achieved in 2010 thanks to your help and commitment to animals in need.


*337 Animals Taken in: Cats = 181 (2009= 187)
Dogs = 62 (2009= 55)
Rabbits = 88 (2009= 68)
Guinea Pigs = 6 (2009= 19)
(Misc 2009= 2)

*17 more than 2009

257 Animals Rehomed: Cats = 165 (2009= 183)
Dogs = 50 (2009= 61)
Rabbits = 40 (2009= 68)
Guineas Pigs = 2 (2009= 19)

1180 Animals Attended Free Pet Health Clinics:
Dogs = 610
Cats = 232
Rabbits = 112
Reptiles= 98
Misc = 128

* 197 more than 2009, made possible thanks to £5k grant from RSPCA HQ

632 Owned Animals Received Low Cost Microchipping


1. Wide and persistent ill health amongst the cats effected rehoming figures, sent vet costs spiralling and caused a total of 3 months worth of cattery closure.

2. By far the greatest number of pedigree dogs and puppies (dogs under 18months old) were relinquished than ever before.

3. The branch admitted 'case animals' for the first time. In total: 1 cat, 4 guinea pigs and 39 rabbits were cared for whilst the owners were investigated and prosecuted by the national RSPCA.

4. For the time in recent memory there have been an abundance of kittens and queens 'in season' out of season . Such as little Oreo pictured, who was found at barely 4 weeks old seeking warmth from a car engine.


During December the branch launched 'Rescue Animal 2010'. Staff and volunteers were invited to nominate their most memorable branch animals of 2010. Those animals were then short listed to 12, the adopters informed of their animal's success and an online vote began!
We were delighted by the response the poll received and in the end nearly 600 individual votes were cast.

The winner was Floyd the cat, pictured. Although a surprise winner his determined nature, love of belly rubs and winning personality won the majority over as he secured 18% of the votes.
In second place was Thomas the cat who had suffered incredible neglect that was tantamount to cruelty, in third place was long term stray and grump, Bruiser the cat, and in fourth place was Nipper the JRT cross, now known as Layla and possibly the most good natured dog we have ever had in our care.

Congratulations to all the animals short listed, but let's face it, everyone of the 257 animals rehomed this year were winners because they all found a second or third chance at love and life.
Nipper's new mum really summed it up perfectly for us: “The message here is if you are looking for a pet think rescue....they are simply the best.”


In 2011 we need find ever more innovative and cost effective ways of promoting animal welfare.
We will not have the funds to deliver more than a handful of free pet health clinics in 2011 so we will be focusing on welfare events that promote microchipping and share good welfare practice.

We continue to remain committed to improving the welfare of rabbits in the UK. 2010 has seen even more large animal cases involving rabbits. The branch has been directly involved with a number rabbit rescues and to be frank, the state of rabbit care in this country is nothing short of shocking.

The branch is delighted that the national RSPCA has chosen rabbit welfare as a focus of research and campaigning for the next few years. The branch will be playing a key role in the development of this work and will continue to promote rabbit welfare regionally.

In April we will be asking Manchester shoppers to consider rabbits as 'pets, not prisoners' to address the common belief that rabbits should live in hutches and to hopefully deter the giving of rabbits as presents at Easter.

In May we will be participating in 'Rabbit Action Week' by holding our a roadshow offering free veterinary health checks by exotic vets and free VHD vaccinations.
But as in every year, our main goal for 2011 will be to help as many locally rescued animals as possible.

We are delighted that we have been help even more animals in need than ever before, especially so with such restricted staffing and resources. Yet we do remain fearful for the future of animal welfare as a result of the state of the economy.

We have witnessed first hand the decline in animal adoptions and increase in animals in need in 2010. With more job losses and cutbacks forecast the future of the branch has never looked so uncertain and already we are predicting and even more challenging year ahead.

Now, more than ever, we need your help to give hope and love to the animals the RSPCA inspectorate bring to us each week.

Money is not the only thing we need, there are many practical ways you can help:
  • We urgently need cat beds - new or second hand.
  • We always need donations of adult or kitten wet or dry food.
  • We always need donations of dog toys and 'treats' such as raw hides.
  • We always need donations of suitable rabbit toys and suitable 'treats' like hay cakes or dried corn cobs.
  • We always need donations for our shops. and don't forget we can recycle almost anything for cash - such as unwearable clothing, broken jewellery, foreign/old coins, books etc.
  • But if you have any time to spare why not get involved in our events organising or become a trustee?
We need your help more than ever, so please get in touch if you would like to get involved this year and make a difference to the lives of animals like Floyd, Thomas, Bruiser and Nipper. We have over 50 volunteers who do just that each and every week, so why not join our team in 2011?

Thank you all for your continued support; we wish you all a peaceful and happy New Year.