Friday, 12 August 2011

On the line

It's been a while since the last blog, and it is only with great reluctance that I do this one. Why? Well, because there is little joy to share and little hope of things improving and so we have all spent the last week or so just reeling from the horrible reality we are facing.

July saw the worst animal adoption figures I have ever known. Only 6 cats/kittens, 1 dog and 1 rabbit were adopted. We usually rehome around 25 animals a month and August is set to be little better. The demand for cat admissions in particular is through the roof. We have exhausted every last opportunity we can to place a cat or kitten yet the numbers being rescued is relentless. The only glimmer of reassurance came yesterday when I learnt that a neighbouring branch was experiencing the same dramatic reduction in adoptions.

We've just had a 5th dog of the year returned from last year's rehomings. That's nearly 10% now of the dogs we found homes for last year that have now been returned. Despair is a very real feeling at this moment in time and whilst I'm sure it is not uncommon that other branches and animal charities have dogs returned, it just upsets us all so much as we feel like we have failed them, and that hurts.

Crisis is a word I would never use lightly, but this is what we are facing. We have had a review of our finances and we are in crisis. Rising costs, some large, unavoidable expenditure and reduction in income means that we are in crisis financially and need to find in excess of £30,ooo worth of savings. There's only 2 places where that can come from - the animals and staff. And so this is the terrible reality we are yet again trying to come to terms with.

It's all just so mind-blowing. Animals needs us now more than ever but the means to help them just isn't there. We did an analysis of costs per animal and it is so clear to see where the money goes:
Av costs to rehabilitate a dog in 2011 is £685 (£560 in 2009)
Av cost to rehabilitate a rabbit in 2011 is £420 (£290 in 2009)
Av cost to rehabilitate a cat in 2011 is £210 (£220 in 2009)

These figures only include the basics - boarding costs and vet bills - and not the staff costs or associated sundries such as transportation costs, environmental enrichment etc. And yes, it is our job to do this, but without the money to we simply can't.

You can see that it is the rabbits and dogs where the costs have spiralled. Rabbits take so long to rehome because of their complex needs and, I hope, because of better information being disseminated these days about how they shouldn't live in a hutch and are not children's pets. Whereas with the dogs the costs to rehabilitate really betray the care needs they have when they come into our care.

When you see the truth of what it costs per animal to take in, rehabilitate and rehome, it becomes quite maddening when people balk at the idea of paying an adoption fee. We charge £100 for a dog, £50 for a cat/kitten and £40 for a rabbit - all are neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and where species applicable they are flea and wormed regularly too. It was only yesterday that I spoke to someone who had bought a regular kitten of the internet for £39 and had to return him/her because they were riddled with fleas. I constantly ask myself why wouldn't you go to a shelter?

So, you can see why my absence from the blog has been so long. It is just so much to come to terms with, and as always, the staff are dealing with it all so admirably whereas me and the trustees are still despairing. We remain closed to animal admissions for the foreseeable future but with dozens and dozens of them waiting for new homes there is no shortage of work to keep us busy. I have included a selection of some of our beautiful new cats.

In the meantime, if you'd like to help there are some really simple ways you can do this:
1. Tell people to adopt an animal from us.

2. Bring along unwanted items to our Didsbury shop - 19 Barlow Moor Road. We had a good first 2 weeks but the weather has really dampened sales this week and we will barely break-even, plus donations have really dropped off, so we really need anything you can share.

3. Donate your copper jar to us - we love counting pennies.

4. Help us with our events/fundraising - we have a hot supper and dance booked for November and we really need donations of prizes for our raffle, auction and help with decorations

Every bit of help and support means so much to us. We are grateful to all our supporters, staff and volunteers for being there for us and we hope we can be here beyond next year but at the moment this is on the line.