Sunday, 4 March 2012

Values and Core Beliefs

This past week has decidedly been business as usual at RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch with the startling mix of excitement, euphoria and the absolute pits. A common theme that has repeatedly reared itself is that of 'core beliefs' and 'values'.

For some months now myself and Hannah I have been keeping a log of some of the more baffling calls and emails that we receive to the office. The original idea was that we were going to share them on the blog, but when the crunch came last week we both agreed they were just too shocking and distressing to share. Hannah was frustrated because she wanted everyone to be able to see for themselves what kind of things we routinely cope with, but it was just impossible to sanitise them for wider consumption. Things like leaving animals with struggling with giving birth, broken legs, open wounds and dying for days on end are regular occurrences and always, always at 3.30pm on a Friday afternoon.

We've recently been promoting free female cat neutering in East Manchester. Purely out of interest I've been logging the ages of the cats in receipt of our help and so far the oldest has been 4 years old. All the cats so far have had at least one litter and makes me wonder how many more they would have had if we weren't running the scheme.

When we did free microchipping in the area in January and I had my eyes opened to the fact that many people don't see a need to routinely neuter male cats. For me it has always seemed really irresponsible to allow any unneutered male or female cat out of the house, but my viewpoint proved to be very much in the minority on this occasion.

I actually really appreciate and enjoy having my eyes opened in this way and helps me to rethink our approaches and ideas for promoting animal welfare. Currently we are working through ways in which to affordably promote sustainable improvements to animal welfare in East Manchester. But the reality that I'm facing up to is that we are too limited both in terms of finances and staffing but that doesn't mean we'll give up. What I want to do in the first instance is try to understand what is needed the most. The problem is how to engage with a community to find this out when the notion of animal welfare comprises of a different set of values and priorities and the RSPCA is regarded with suspicion. Free neutering surely has to be one way forward but when only four people reply out of a 500 leaflet drop for free cat neutering it's hard to know where to go next.

Yesterday we held a free pet health clinic in Little Hulton where people were able to get free vet checks, microchipping and flea treatment. It's an area we try to visit annually and I'm delighted to say the turn out was tremendous and the team worked so hard and in total we microchipped 111 animals for free and health checked 91 animals with just one vet and in just 4 hours. Our friends, the Salford Dog Wardens and the local Park Ranger, were instrumental in making it such a success by going all out to promote it and I am ever so grateful to them.

There were two things that really struck me about the clinic yesterday: the wealth of kindness and support we received for the event and the identification of some serious health complaints. The latter is obvious because that always fills us with reassurance that we've really served a purpose in being there but receiving praise is just as uplifting, if not more so.

Now I know this sounds bizarre, but we rarely receive the kind of thanks and praise we got yesterday. Even though people were having to wait for so long to be seen, no tempers frayed and people actually made a point of saying what a good job we were doing. And, quite rarely we actually received some donations too.

Of course all of this is only a small part of what has been another hectic week, as we've had more new bunny arrivals (this time from a rescue of 40 in Newcastle), we've had lots of new cat admissions, the arrival of more baby guinea pigs and the admission of cutie-pie JRT pup Stevie.

Katie cat has to have been the luckiest animal of the week. She arrived Thursday morning, was reserved that afternoon and was in her new home by Saturday morning - very lucky girl indeed! And Stevie pup? He was in an RTA and seems to have taken the brunt of the collision to his skull. He has an uncertain future at the moment but both he and his foster parents are being very courageous and resilient, so let's hope he makes it through.

But the highlight of all of it? Our celebration night out for Brandy's adoption! It's not very often that an animal rehoming charity can brag about finding a home for a 9 year old brindle staffie with congenital skin problem in just 4 months. But actually, Brandy is the best friend anyone could wish for and she is just a wonderful dog that has already won over all the hearts in her new life. And there were plenty of snuffles and holding back tears when she went last Saturday but last night was a celebration and we did it in style!

So here's to Brandy and her new family for being so very special indeed.