Tuesday, 5 June 2012


As the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend comes to a close I find myself reflecting on what has been a tumultuous month. The extended bank holiday weekend could not have come at a better time for us, to enable us to take two and recharge and get lots of puppy home visits done so they can be in their forever homes quick smart!

It really has been an incredibly busy month; our animal intake has been the greatest in over two years, we have 72 furries in our care (when we only really have capacity for around 50) and we have rehomed 32 animals - another incredible achievement, and our vet bill is nearly double what it should be/can afford. It all adds up to a relentless month of activity making sure our animals get the best care possible and we help as many as we can squeeze in.

There have been a higher than usual number of animals in poor health, which has contributed to our vet bill of nearly £5,000. I nearly buckled when I got the bill but then took stock of who we'd helped and how. Charlie, Ziggy, Jerry, Walter and Summer have all required additional, and extensive, veterinary intervention to diagnose, treat and/or determine their future. It has really been an upsetting time and one that has led so far to the loss of Walter. We have the fate of Summer and Charlie looming, which means we face the coming week with worry. We also have a newbie in, whose owners are being investigated with a view to prosecution. He too is in a poor state and will also clock up the pennies but he has a home with me, if he proves well enough to continue. But heartache definitely lingers on the horizon once more.

It seems more and more that animals rescued from pitiful circumstances require so much additional care and attention. It sounds really quite obvious when you consider that all our animals are rescued by the RSPCA but with stretched budgets, and minimal staffing, it's really hard to manage intake over expenditure.

Few people realise that there are just two animal care staff and me to oversee the care, treatment and rehoming of all 72 animals in our care. We do not have admin staff or office workers, it really is just us. So, whilst we've been chasing our tails prioritising the animals' well-being the complaints have been stacking up about us not answering telephone calls directly. I must stress that we always return answer machine messages (assuming people are in, we can hear their telephone number) but we understand that people much prefer to talk to a human. Unfortunately time just hasn't afforded us the chance to be as available to the public as we'd like because the increase workload has kept us out of the office and out with the animals. I totally accept responsibility for all of this but I would much rather says yes to the admission of a litter of puppies in need than prioritise time in the office.

The increase in activity has also increased complaints about our rehoming policies when we've refused people to adopt from us. Common reasons for refusal are that existing pets in the home are not neutered or vaccinated, in the case of cats they live too close to busy roads, in the case of rabbits the available accommodation set up does not meet the behavioural needs of the species, in the case of kittens it is because we will only rehome in pairs unless their is an existing cat in the home.

Many people think this latter policy is bonkers but it is based on many years experience from a team of people who have dedicated their lives to caring for rescue cats. The conclusion some time ago was that kittens greatly benefit from the opportunity to interact with their own kind, as it helps them to develop essential communication skills as well as bite and claw inhibition. In the last two years we have seen more animal charities adopt this policy but it is still 'out there', on a limb, but we are proud to be mavericks!

During my recent research on the benefits of 'puppy parties' I came across the phenomenon of 'kitty kindergarten'. Whilst as crazy as it sounds (and yes, it originates from across the pond) the concept is based very much on the premise that kittens benefit from socialising with one another. The conclusion from the research was very much that both puppies and kittens need to interact with animals of their own kind of a similar age, so we will continue to extol the virtues of puppy parties and rehoming kittens in pairs.

In the next week we will have the seven dwarves' going up for adoption. They were two separate litters that arrived in our care the same week and were take on by one of our fantastic foster families to hand rear. To look at them now you would have no idea they were not raised by their mum's and they are a testament to the love, care and skill of their surrogate family. I'm due for my weekly fix soon but for me, just popping round once a week, it has been an absolute joy to watch them develop. So, for the foster family I can only imagine it must feel like they've climbed Mount Everest, twice, but come out of it with a whole heap of furry fun! Parting with this diverse group of characters will no doubt be hard, but what an amazing achievement to have saved and raised 7 new born kittens in one go. Amazing foster carers indeed.

It seems only fitting that the blog should end on a Jubilee themed note. I wish I could claim to having penned this poem, because it is so apt and funny.....

Please pick me,
On this jubilee,
I promise I won't wee,
On your settee,
For I am trained and fully grown,
So I use my litter throne.

We have plenty of animals looking for their forever thrones so please take a look at our website: www.rspca-manchesterandsalford.org.uk

The pictures are of Inca the puppy who had to have her eye removed after a savage attack from another dog. Inca is incredibly happy in her foster home and being very well looked after by her new 'dog dad'.