This week has been such a contrast between joyful Christmas spirit and sheer incredulity.
We have been so lucky to have had such a great response to our Xmas Pet Toy appeal that on Tuesday each and every bunny got new treats and toys to play with and on Wednesday all the dogs got the same! In fact, the response to the dog toys has been so great that we've been able to have a much needed clear out of all the worn, well-loved toys that had seen better days.
We have not seen the dogs so happy in ages, and you know what rabbits are like: if they are eating they are happy! We have some more fantastic enrichment toys to give to the bunnies today and it's all just been so exciting and uplifting and I cannot thank everyone enough for donating so generously.
But whilst our friends and supporters have been so wonderfully kind and caring I'm afraid there has been the typical ,darker side going on.
By Tuesday I really had had a gut full of people calling 'to buy a kitten for their kids for Christmas'. Not a single person had a clue. One person actually challenged me when I said we don't rehome pets as presents and demanded to know why. I said that for over 20 years now animal welfare charities have campaigned against this and it was something she was genuinely unaware of. She didn't seem to listen to my explanation either, so there goes another homeless animal in the new year.
On a related topic, I read this week (courtesy of the Rabbit Welfare Fund) that within the first year of purchase 60% of pet rabbits are relinquished to animal sanctuaries. Sounds a lot, doesn't it? Well, when you consider that the figure amounts to 21,000 you can't help but feel opposed to pet shops selling animals. Currently the Rabbit Welfare Fund is conducting research to find out how many rabbits are in rescues throughout the UK. The previous figure was 35,000 at anyone time, but it's now thought to be much higher. But just think about that for a moment- 21,000 rabbits given up within the first year and 35,000 waiting for a new home at any one time.
Uh. It's so frustrating and makes me so mad. But people just won't have it that rabbits do not make good children's pets. Family pets, yes, but not children's pets. And as I sit here all cosy and warm as the snow falls in Salford - how many rabbits do you think will get ignored today because the owner doesn't want to go out and get cold?
Other bewildering 'snippets' that have happened this week.....
- one caller sticks in my mind, who rang up to say we had to collect her cat cos she didn't want it any more because she'd gone and got a dog
- another one rang to say we had to pay for her animal to see the vet as she'd spent all her money on Christmas presents
- and I learnt of a rescue yesterday of 3 pups abandoned outside a labour club in the freezing cold
The calls to relinquish animals hasn't abated and matters are made far worse because there are no spaces anywhere because there are no animal adoptions at this time of year - either centres choose to close or people turn their attention to the festivities. But abuse from the general public doesn't stop just because it's Christmas and I know many of us have been getting a lot of it recently but the fact is we don't have the answers! Our cattery, kennels and foster carers are already full and will remain that way until the New Year when adoptions pick up again.
So, if I can ask one thing of people over the next week, please spend some extra time with your furries. Treat them to a new toy, buy them something extra special to eat or give them extra play time. Please, take a moment to cherish them and let them know just how lucky they are to be loved by you, because there are so many out there that aren't loved and cherished as they deserve to be.