I love Summer; it is my favourite time of the year. I love the long light days, the glorious sunshine and holidays! But this Summer has been far from glorious.. The weather has been vile and the sheer number of cats and kittens being rescued is fast becoming what seems like an unprecedented amount. We've taken on more foster carers in an attempt to cope with the strain,but when you consider who long each family unit stays with a foster carer it barely makes a dent. The answer has to be neutering, but as regular readers of the blog know, we've tried hard this year to give away free cat neutering but there have been few takers.
|Florence and her two kittens were removed from horrible circumstances.|
|Stray bunny captured by me, Hannah and Carmen today on an estate in Salford|
But what I've long learnt is that the problem isn't resolved by simply creating more capacity to take in more animals. We could have endless amounts of space but there will still be unwanted, abandoned and badly cared for pets. The answer has to be to reduce the animal population and so this will be our focus, once more, this Autumn. What I simply don't know is how we get people to actually use the neutering vouchers we give them.
|Poppy is pictured with her headscarf, Pansy. There are 4 other kittens in the litter.|
From another, purely selfish point of view, as a small charity we simply don't have the budget to contend with the additional costs of increasing our capacity, which inevitably means a new headache - how do we raise the funds? Inevitably what comes with taking in more animals is more illnesses to contend with. We've had a lot of ill animals this month and I am concerned that our August vet bill may very well reach a record high. Finding the money for this is not as simple as it sounds. We are greatly reliant on donations and fundraising but the holiday season really impacts on things like charity shops sales, so we have to look at alternative income streams. An obvious choice at this time of year is attending community fairs, but with the weather having been so rotten of late we've scaled back on outdoor activities this summer for this very reason.
|Braving the heatwave at EST Donkey Sanctuary yesterday.|
We did, however, attend the EST Donkey Sanctuary Summer Fair yesterday with a teddy tombola and free microchipping. Myself and Emma, one of our foster mum's and fundraisers, were reminiscing about all the stalls we've tried to do in ridiculous weather. Whilst Emma remembered them with fondness, the misery of those times stick hard with me! But yesterday was a great day for connecting with animal-minded people.
It was wonderful to see so many folks getting involved with the stall and being so generous. Yet there was this really stark contrast between supporters and people coming along to take advantage of free microchipping.
Twentyone animals were microchipped for free and we received no more than a few coins in donations for it. Considering that it costs up to £30 at a vets to have your pet chipped, and that many of the dogs were pedigrees, I can't help but feel tinged with annoyance. Now don't get me wrong, we aren't doing the chipping to make any money, we are doing it to help the owned animals, but there is a part of me that finds it really quite galling that such little appreciation is shown.
We did, however, meet three people that bowled me over. One was a couple that had taken on a seriously problematic Chihuahua that had been beaten and thrown down stairs. Another was a family that had bought a dog via Facebook and were getting him kitted out with everything he needed. But my favourite by far was a young chap with an American Bulldog.
This young man and his dog were the stereotypical image of irresponsible pet ownership yet he was the most responsible pet owner we met that day. Not only was his dog neutered but incredibly well cared for, obedient and suitably trained. He really restored my faith and just goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover.
The other theme we kept repeatedly experiencing was people using choke chains, or half check chains, to 'train' their dog and so many young and excitable pups that hadn't been to training classes. If I could influence government policy not only would I call for all dogs to be microchipped and neutered (KC registered breeders being the only exception) I would also ban all check/choke chains, electric/prong collars and make it compulsory for all puppies to attend training classes (of the right kind).
A perfect poster-boy for this was a Bichon Frisse we met called Louis. I think he was 8 months. Louis had just passed his beginners training class and was enrolled for the intermediate class. Louis sat obediently as we microchipped him and he was a real credit to his owners and their hard work in helping Louis to become a happy and obedient dog.
We met very many other puppies that ran around like loons, jumping up for attention, desperately trying to learn how to please and use their active minds.What is so frustrating is seeing so many owners unknowingly creating behavioural problems through their actions/inactions and inconsistent approach and seeing first hand which dogs, and why, will end up in pounds. Being a responsible pet owner is so much more than just feeding, walking and loving your animal and that young man and his Am bulldog were a role model of how to really care for your dog.
|Camilla was found in someones garden flea ridden and severely matted with her baby Adriana|
|Adriana kitten warm and dry|
This Autumn we have 3 free pet clinics lined up, but we are as yet to identify venues to hold them in. If anyone has any ideas for the Harpurhey, Wythenshawe or Gorton areaa then please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get pets neutered and microchipped for free.
|Little Mo. Or is it Farah? They are pretty much identical it's hard to tell them apart.|