Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Rest

We are into our second year with the ‘Rescue Animal of the Year’ awards and this time round we shortlisted to nine, as opposed to twelve in the first year we ran it. We thought it might make it easier for the voters to choose, but in all honesty they are all such worthy winners. It then got me thinking about the animals that didn’t make the short-list, so I thought I’d share some of my personal favourites……

Bilbo was an all-time favourite cat amongst all the staff and volunteers. He was special in so many ways and someone who will forever remain in our hearts. Despite giving him all the veterinary treatment he required, money just couldn’t undo the years of neglect he had endured as a long-term stray. Everyone absolutely devastated when he could no longer walk and had to be put to sleep. Animal Welfare Assistant Debs Beats aptly sums him up:

“Bilbo should win best rescue animal because he really was just that. He never stopped purring even when we were putting ears drops in three times a day, bathing parts of him in salt water, poking and prodding him all day and worse of all putting him on a diet! He just wanted hugs and strokes all day long and was happy to spend the rest of the day curled up in his bed. Even during his last couple of days when he could no longer walk straight he still managed to sit up and hold one paw up as he did to look extra cute in the hope of getting extra treats, which of course we always ended up giving him! If he had been a human he would have been one of those inspirational people that have a terrible illness but somehow manages to run marathons!”

Boris was abandoned by his owner when they moved out and lived as a stray for a long time before coming into our care. Our Chair, Hannah Brookfield, shares why she nominated Boris:

“Boris was a lovely, friendly chap that I always remember fondly. Being a black and white cat he already had the odds stacked against him for finding a home (black and white cats, along with black cats aren’t as popular as all the other coat colours). Thankfully, his winning personality finally won his new family over and they adopted him this year. I have lots of pictures of Boris playing with his fluffy pink mouse in the cattery which always make me smile.”

Murray came into our care along with his brothers Brett and Jermaine when they were a couple of weeks old. A teenager found them abandoned, tried in earnest to care for them but after a few day alerted his youth worker who in turn contacted the RSPCA. The kittens were in a very poor way and sadly on Boxing Day 2010 Brett went dramatically downhill and lost his fight to life.

Trustee Dave Hartley explains why he nominated Murray:

“Murray was one of my brother’s and his partners very first foster kittens. I remember him when he was a tiny, sickly, little furry blob who needed lots of care and attention from the fosterers, nursing him two hours a day round the clock for ages. He was finally rehomed with his brother and a year on is a gorgeous, big ginger cat, with a tail to die for!”

Mr Jeremy was brought into our care as a long-term stray that had a sensitive tummy that flared up again when he was adopted. After 5 weeks he was returned but thankfully he cleared up straightway but we still took the route of an elimination diet plan and he remained in foster care until he found his forever home in Rossendale. Because he was with his foster family for so long the wrench was hard, but to this day we still receive updates from his 80 year old ‘dad’! Her, his foster mum explains why Mr Jeremy got her vote:

“Jeremy had the nicest temperament. He was cool and relaxed and was always up for a fuss. He never raised a paw or showed any kind of unhappiness. Even though he had to have the plainest food you've ever seen he never meowed in complaint; he just got on with it. I’ll never forget being allowed to let him out to play (he had been with us that long): it was summer and he ran after leaves blowing in the garden like a kitten. We loved him so much.”

Porky was brought into our care after his fairly young owner had tragically passed away. He was a nervous young boy who’d had minimal socialising and was totally unable to cope with the world. We had intended to put him in the kennels but within moments of arrival it was obvious this could not happen. We were very lucky to have our wonderful foster parents Sue and Simon come to his rescue and thanks to their hard work and determination a remarkable transformation took place and he was able to be rehomed. Here his foster mum explains all:

“Porky-piggy was absolutely petrified of everyone; let’s just say that he even emptied his bladder and bowels all over the vets whilst they tried to check him over. He also frantically tried to bite anyone that tried to get near him, hence he was a bit of a problem dog to put into kennels and we ended up with the little guy. After 7 weeks with us he ended up being the most affectionate, playful, fun-loving little dog; and we loved him even though he was the strangest looking dog you’ve ever seen - we called him a Westie on stilts!”

Bonnie came into our care after she was dumped in a bin just a few hours old and left for dead. Everyone was rooting for her as her first foster parents hand-reared her round the clock and performed nothing short of a miracle. Once weaned Bonnie went to a foster home where she could be socialised with large breed dogs. Here her second foster explains why she nominated Bonnie:

“Bonnie is now a bouncy hippo of a puppy and growing every day. She chews everything and anything including me and my husband and our 3 dogs. She’s heaps of fun and a little terror too. She has a little stubborn streak, but is such a sweetheart. She is going to be the most amazingly stunning companion, all be it a bit slavvery , yuk! I must say it’s been a pleasure looking after such amazing animals.”

Earl came into our care along with Lady, as there owner was unable to give them (and 4 other dogs) the care that they needed and were being kept in kennels 24/7 and rarely exercised. One of our volunteers explains why she nominated Earl:

“Earl was one of those cases that stick in my mind because he represents thousands of other dogs that have been in the same position. Being an ex-racer he was kennelled badly and had terrible bald patches on his back legs. I remember walking him in November 2010 and he was shivering with cold but two of the staff at Ashleigh Vets bought him and Lady coats. Luckily we managed to rehome Earl pretty quickly (and Lady too). I did his home visit just before Christmas last year. I was soon sent lots of pictures of him on the sofa and sprawled out in front of the fire with his Santa hat on. This is where greyhounds belong, not on the race track.”

Willow was signed over to our care by her owners who found to be failing to meet her needs. She was not the first dog we had taken from them. Two of our dog walkers explain why they nominated Willow:

“Willow was the most amazingly gentle, well behaved gorgeous dog! Considering the size of her she could have been a nightmare but she was the complete opposite and such a happy lovely dog! I always looked forward to seeing her!” Sarah McConville

“Willow the Great Dane was a big softie who used to nudge her head against you when out walking with her. I loved her to bits.” Jo Aljibouri

Clint had outgrown accommodation at two other RSPCA branches before coming into our care. He had been just 2 months old when rescued but he was a Continental Giant and grew to massive proportions and was temporarily being kept in a dog kennel until we came to his rescue. His adopter remembers the day he arrived because she cares for our bunnies at her private boarding establishment:

“Clint was transferred with his brother from another RSPCA branch. He came in very nervous and looking very sorry for himself. Having recently lost our gorgeous Benny-Benson, a Continental Giant house bunny with an awful brain tumour, we fell instantly for Clint and his brother and ended up adopting Clintos. He has come on in leaps and bounds and is quite the cheeky, quietly confident lad now and loves a special tickle from his new mum (me).”

Margot’s fate was so typical of so many rabbits that come into animal welfare charities’ care. She was found stray and was rescued by a member of the public. One of our volunteers explains why she nominated Margot:

“Margot was just a stunning rabbit that must have had some sort of hare in there too! I remember taking photos of her for our website after she had just arrived; she was so brave and dying to get out for a run. I can see how she ended up straying! Many of the rabbits are so scared when they come into our care due to the ill-treatment they have often suffered so it was a refreshing change to meet a super confident and uber naughty bunny!”

We owe everything and more to the dedication of our staff, volunteers and the private-boarding staff for making sure these very special animals get the chance to live a life worth living, against all the odds. 98% of the animals taken into our care in 2011 were RSPCA ‘generated’, which means they have been rescued from cruelty, neglect and/or abandonment. We are the only animal welfare charity in England and Wales that does what it does, which means our animals are very special indeed.

I can’t wait for the festivities to be over so we can get back to doing what we do best – rehabilitating and rehoming these exceptional furry people.