Saturday, 4 February 2012

In the words of Frank Sidebottom - 'BLIMEY!'

Blimey indeed! What an incredible week it has been for RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch and some of our neighbouring branches too. You know it's a bad one if by Monday evening I'm in a state worry and requiring a 'pep talk' from husband. He always knows just the right thing to say and this time it was the simple words of: "that's what you are there for" that did the trick. So, let me tell you all about it.

It all started last Friday when a Garden Centre in Royton, Oldham went up in flames and several hundred animals tragically perished in the fire. My counterpart at the Bury and Oldham branch, Mandy, rallied together her troops and they went in and rescued all the surviving animals. The Rochdale branch were soon on scene too and between them all they did the most heroic job of rescuing and caring for the very many animals that came out unscathed - and there were mighty many.

It wasn't until the following morning, when the extent of everything became clear, I got in touch to offer spaces to take in guinea pigs. We just couldn't take in any more rabbits because we were expecting 6 new arrivals but wanted to help out as much as we could and guinea pigs were our only option.

When the animals were signed over to the RSPCA on Monday we went up to collect just 4 guinea pigs. I was in my car (we can only afford one work vehicle) and I just had space on my back seat for 3 carriers. Ha! Well, best laid plans 'and all that' resulted in us coming away with far more than we could realistically fit in the car:

4 heavily pregnant adolescent guinea pigs
2 individual male guinea pigs

1 mummy bunny and her 4 babies that she gave to birth to during her rescue

1 female grey lionhead

We had to stack carriers on top off one another and balance on our knees, and as we were driving along a bun and piggy that had been rescued living together had a big fight and my colleague had to contend with the addition of a bunny in her coat as we drove for an hour. It was really quite a calamitous situation but we all made it unscathed.

Our Hannah is fostering one of the adolescent mummy pigs and you can check out why at her 'Diary of an RSPCA Guinea Pig' http://http// It is an absolutely fascinating insight into the world of guinea pigs and check out the 'popcorning' link on day 3 - it's magic stuff!

So, I suppose to most people this doesn't sound like a particularly large amount, but with us already being up to capacity, and that small matter of actually not having our own centre, it immediately puts a whacking great pressure on our limited resources. And let's not forget, 12 are soon going to turn into 20+++. BLIMEY!

It wasn't helped by the fact that in the previous week I had agreed to take in 6 other RSPCA rescued rabbits: 4 from a local welfare case, 1 from South Yorkshire and 1 from Hull. The panic just hit straight away that fateful Monday but my beloved Hannah and Gilly responded in true fashion by setting about raising funds. Hannah is going to run a half marathon in March and Gilly stumped up £200. How great are they? But when you factor that each rabbit actually costs an average of £400 to rehabilitate and rehome you can see why they were so quick to act and me to panic. In absolute basic terms it costs £2 per rabbit/guinea pig a day. So if we admit 12 (and counting) from the fire that's £24 a day extra we have to find, immediately. So, yes, I'm stressed.

If all that wasn't sufficient excitement we've admitted so many new cats this week too:

Peter, Norton, Maddy, Dotty, Donny, Danny, Charles, Sammi, Leoni - in one day alone I had to shuttle 5 into the cattery. This has only possible because of the fantastic run on adoptions and the support we've received from two foster carers helping us to bring round some timid rescue cats in their homes. We've admitted 3 more pups today and there are still 4 more cats to come in - I have to find the space on Monday, ho-hum!

by Wednesday we were all exhausted and the collation of our end of month animal activity stats demonstrated exactly why we have been so rushed off our feet for the last month. I am so proud and elated to share that we rehomed a phenomenal 34 animals in January: 26 cats/kits, 4 dogs and 4 rabbits. Just to put that into perspective, we typically rehome around 20-25 per month. When you factor in that for each animal coming into the branch they need:

  • collecting from their point of rescue and/or RSPCA clinic

  • delivering to the cattery/kennels/foster home

  • usually at least 2 vet appts for treatment, vaccs, neuter etc

  • and then, when you take into consideration the geographical logistics of our animals being in so many places because we don't have a centre, it's no wonder we are all shattered and our petrol costs are so high!

Now I'll be the first to admit we could just do with a quiet week to have a bit of a 'breather', it is fantastic the fact that we are helping so many animals and with so little.

The images above are some of my highlights of the week. Perhaps my two favourites are of Lulu rotti dog and Sadie staffie. Lulu is going to her new home tomorrow after never even being up for adoption! Our friends at SooZoo told clients about her pending arrival and let's just say it was all just meant to be! For Sadie it is a similar triumph and her reserve today was noted with a 'she's meant to be ours and she was brilliant with the children and even put the brakes on around them'. Oh, and I nearly forgot about Gilbert! He was reunited with his owner 7 days afer he was rescued by an RSPCA inspector. These things just never happen and it is all the more miraculous because he didn't have a microchip.

We are all ending the week happy and exhausted and we will start all over again on Monday with a renewed vigour to to help the arrivals. For now we are hoping for a peaceful weekend a lottery windfall.