Saturday, 4 August 2012


With the Olympic Games proving all consuming this week it has, for me, thrown into sharp relief something that we at the RSPCA do really well, and that's team work.

It first struck me when I came across a press release from the national Society about a successful prosecution of a horrific case of two dogs being left four weeks without food and water. One died and the other feasted on his companion to survive. Can you imagine what it must have been like for the attending RSPCA inspector to witness such a sight?

What I've learnt over the years is that whilst your imagination maybe able to conjure up a pretty awful scene in your mind when you read about cruelty cases the reality is always, always far worse. Actually seeing neglect first hand is, quite frankly, the stuff that nightmares are made of. So, every time I learn of a horrific case like this I always think about the impact on the investigating staff.

On this occasion the investigating officer is a friend of mine and I immediately texted her offer my congratulations. I then shared the article on my Facebook page and soon after comments popped up from nursing staff from the RSPCA vets and other staff, volunteers and adopters. It made me realised what a wonderfully supportive community we are in and just how committed we all are about our contribution to animal welfare.

Today has provided another podium-like pride sweller with the training of 8 new volunteer home visitors. Half the group were existing volunteers and the other half were newbies to the fold. What was so lovely was seeing people relax and integrate with such ease, thanks to the encouragement and support they received from each other. What I loved even more was listening to people share stories about their animals and the ones they help care for on our behalf. Listening to people so enthralled by the furries was fantastic; they were just so impassioned I couldn't help but feel proud to be immersed in their presence.

Benjamin Pup, safe and sound in our foster care this week.

This week has finally seen the end of the dreaded cat flu at the cattery and on Friday we reopened, much to everyone's relief. We've had people desperate to come and meet some of the gang and we've been desperate to put newbies in. It has been a struggle and a half to cope. We have approx 6 cats yet to go in that have been temporarily living here, there and everywhere and I am just so grateful to everyone whose been helping us out.

I'm also really hoping that now the summer holidays are underway more people will start to think about animal adoption again. Each summer is the same: adoptions are few and tend to be limited to kittens only. We've begun to get a bit more interest in the dogs and rabbits of late and hopefully in time we will with the adult cats too. But this has been without doubt the worst Summer for animals needing to come in (from being rescued by RSPCA field staff) that I have ever known.

Many are animals that have been abandonment and I believe this is entirely due to the hard times people are experiencing and irresponsible breeding. One call this week was from a gentleman who was heartbroken at having to find somewhere to take in his beloved cats. He had lost his job and felt he could no longer afford them. When I explained that finding a place to take them in at this time of year would be very difficult he sounded crest fallen. What was frustrating for me was that this was somebody trying to be responsible, acknowledging he couldn't give his animals the care they needed and was putting them first. I only wish we could have helped, but aside from their being no room, this is not our remit, it is the role of general animal sanctuaries to help.

This may sound a bit like we are being a jobs-worth but it's quite simple really. If we don't take in the animals the RSPCA field staff rescue then where would they go? We have to do all we can to prioritise those animals so that they can come into safety and recover, like the dog in the case above. But at this time of year finding space is so hard and I'm not immune to a bit of blackmail - giving or receiving!

I succumbed to a major one Friday afternoon and now Herbert the cat is staying in our office for the weekend until we can find him somewhere to go. My punishment is to go into see to him on my day off! But I have also 'tried it on' with a couple of foster carers this week who similarly succumbed and have extra charges in their care. We all do it with a knowing smile but when you have a foster home with cats in every room or a foster home with 7 orphaned kittens charging around you can't help but feel a mix of guilt, desperation and relief.

Next week, I'm sure, will be no different but hopefully home visits for newly reserved Big Daddy and Rain will go through and Herbert can find himself a cosy cattery pen to rest in until he finds his new home. And hopefully we will also have a home or two for some of the pooches, as there is plenty of activity on that front this weekend. Fingers crossed!

So, as Team GB does the nation proud this weekend I will be thinking of just how much Team M&S does the animals proud, and make me feel proud. Our sense of camaraderie and shared vision is so uplifting and inspiring and I thank each and every one of our supporters, volunteers and staff for making sure our animals get all that they deserve and more. Gold!

Favourite image of the week - Paddy in his new home playing with his new mate