Sunday, 4 November 2012

One day goodbye will mean farewell

Larry, pictured left, our first ever rabbit and still going strong.
In the last 4 years and 8 months the branch has gone through incredible changes. Perhaps the worst was around 3 years ago when the branch faced financial crisis and we had  to restructure and make staff redundant; something I hope we never have to repeat. We've seen some good friends and colleagues come and go and had our hearts broken over and over again as we've said goodbye to our furry friends for all the right and wrong reasons. We've opened two charity shops in that time and welcomed to the fold a raft of wonderful new volunteers and staff. We began admitting rabbits and guinea pigs and made our name with our expertise in this area. We can boast fantastic adoption, admission and welfare work statistics. We've established ourselves on the worldwide web and we've become a familiar presence in the community. The list could go on, but needless to say I am very proud of our achievements.

There are 10 paid staff altogether: some part-time, some casual and some full-time. They mainly work on the shops side, as many of you know there are just 2 paid animal staff and me. Throughout the last 4 years and 8 months there's only one other staff member who has lived through it all, alongside me, and that's our Catherine.

Catherine with a Inca, a puppy whose owner's other dog savaged. She had to have extensive surgery and lost her eye.

Catherine started work at RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch back in March 2008. She's gone from Animal Welfare Assistant to Animal Welfare Co-ordinator, has had some pretty tough times including life saving surgery, but finally her dream has come true - but it's bitter sweet from me as reality finally hit home this week that she's really leaving us, in January. Catherine is having her first child. The branch's first staff child! And it's all about to change for us all.....

We began recruitment for an Animal Welfare Assistant this week, and that's when I had my wobble; things are never going to be the same again. We will, of course, miss Catherine so much, but it's a journey we have to take and for all the right reasons. We're well and truly up for it and some lucky individual is going to get to join our 'family' and immerse in the wonderful world of M & S. I thought what better way to show what's on offer than to share some of my personal portraits of our life and times....

Working with all creatures great and small

Enriching our animal's lives.

Animals always come first.
Rabbit accountants counting up after collecting money in Tesco stores during RSPCA Week

Unexpected arrivals - these baby bunnies were born in transit to us.

Animals in foster care ensure you have late finishes and early starts, but they're worth it.

Best friends are made but break your heart. Cassie was diagnosed with secondary cancer and had to be put to sleep.

Never a shortage of drama. Kittens are in abundance and these two hand rears were 'saved' by another nursing queen.

Watching amazing animals like Gary get over-looked and stay with us for weeks and months on end is upsetting.

Catherine, in the middle, enduring a gruelling two hour long parade in an uncomfy costume to promote the branch.

Fostering animals like Rigby, who had a revolting degloving injury. Catherine shed tears when he left for his forever home but look at him now!

Helping to raise money for our animals. Catherine threw herself off Europe's tallest lighthouse along with 29 other people
Contending with cheeky animals that are hell-bent on getting your attention through any means possible!

Taking part in community events to raise awareness and microchip animals (Catherine on the right)

Photo shoots are a regular occurrence, especially when you least want them!
Working alongside our amazing volunteers and supporting them from the sidelines.

Having to walk the dogs in all weathers, battle ice and snow to make sure they get the attention they deserve.

Coping with returns like Harley, who was adopted 4 years ago and brought back due to a house fire.

We always have some help in the office. The pressure to take animals in is so great that they sometimes have to live in our offices. This means coming in on our days off to look after them, but they make it so worthwhile.

Of course these are just a few snap shots of life at M&S; there is very much more, but it gives you an idea of what is on offer. We may not have much money to pay but the successful applicant will be enriched in so many other ways.The plan is for Catherine to return part-time after maternity leave but none of us are convinced she'll want to leave her precious baby girl. So, we shall just have to see what the future has in store for us all, but for now I'll enjoy every minute of what we have left together and look forward to welcoming our new member of the M & S family.