Sunday, 20 January 2013

Trust Me

I've missed it all this week. A week full of excitement and significant occurrence and I've missed it all. I feel oddly out of the loop but at the same time quite content in my own little bubble.

I've been away at Bristol Vet School all week learning about Abnormal Repetitive Behaviours in animals. It will hopefully prove a valuable learning experience and benefit our work no end (but before anyone thinks of it, I've paid for it myself, as the charity doesn't have the funds for this). It has, however, meant that I missed quite an important week in the world of the branch, no more so than because of the opening of our city centre charity shop in Manchester.

It has been so hard not being part of the action but thankfully I've had plenty of updates on progress and I'm delighted to say that our first week in the Northern Quarter has proven fruitful and we've made lots of friends with local business and we fast feel like we are becoming part of the community. We all have a really good feeling about the future there, providing we can get stock and that word of mouth gets out about us being there.
Our shop manager Stephanie has really done us proud

We've also broken a record, I think. All four of our dogs that are currently available for adoption have had viewings. I'm not sure this has ever happened before in one week. Even better news is that two of them have been reserved. Now I don't want to count my chickens before they have hatched but one may prove to be a miracle we've been waiting to happen since September last year, and if it does, I'll tell you all about it next time!

Handsome Harley

I also kindly lined up copious amounts of cat admissions, so I've been entirely unpopular with the animal staff this week as they've chased their tails, barely got in the office to answer calls and had puppies to care for round the clock too. (Said puppies are not available for adoption.) I suppose that's one way of making your absence felt. It actually just goes to show how much we depend on one another and what an impact one person has if they are away.

We've also had an incredible run on kitten adoptions, just when we thought they would never find homes our last remaining babies all got snapped up and rehomed in one week. It's great news and hopefully the much needed lull in the abandonment/rescue of kittens will give our two kitty foster carers a much needed break. Though as I write those words I'm chuckling to myself because no soon as I say that you just know what's going to happen....
Oscar and Sabrina settled in their new home.

We are actually desperate to recruit more kitten foster carers, having lost so many because they've adopted so many! The problem is kitten fostering requires an awful lot of time, dedication and a big tolerance to poo! Kittens can pooop for Britain (so can little puppies, as we've discovered this week) but kitten fostering is probably one of the best jobs in the world and one I used to love so very much but as I say, you need time.

You need to be at home a lot and you need to be super laid back to cope with their calamitous, baby elephant ways, oh, and to have a great sense of humour.....hmmm, not much different that human baby parenting then?! Ok, maybe not, but having a tiny life in your charge and watching them grow up and go to new homes is so unbelievably rewarding and heartbreaking all rolled into one. In fact last year we produced a guide to fostering based on the experiences of our wonderful carers, you can see it here. It's the section at the bottom, 'What our foster carers say', and the first line that to this day amuses me:

"They will not act like your own pets and will need more time, more attention and may not even like you!"

This is how I ended up with the now legendary Mildred. She is hateful to this day (nearly 5 years on) and believes she entirely owns my home and anyone who gets in her way, including me, is worthy of contempt and annihilation.

But by far the best bit of the week has been........the snow! Every year snow-time means doggy-fun-time and we love it. Here is a video of Holly having a lot of fun in the snow. We also have new dog Calvin all wrapped up and ready for fun.
Calvin has only been with us a week and came to us terribly underweight. His owner simply couldn't afford to feed him. I find this so sad, there was clearly no lack of love towards Calvin just a lack of money. When you hear on the news how people are struggling to feed themselves and are having to seek charity support for food handouts it makes you realise what a mess we are in. I would be deeply saddened if readers felt anger towards Calvin's owner, his owner was clearly struggling and clearly loved his dog. Calvin is a brilliant lad and we will do everything within our power to help him recover and go on to live a happy life. The following pictures are distressing but remember he's in good hands and his owner has done the right thing in signing him over.

But by far the highlight of the week has to be footage of our former resident and best friend Kia. She'd spent many years living on a balcony in a block flats without any shelter. This video brought tears to ours eyes and I hope you enjoy it too.

Until next time please keep your animals safe and warm. If you have animals outside please make sure they have plenty of extra bedding and they have access to water at all times.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Review of 2012

Custom dictates that each year we produce a report on the year-that-was for an annual audit to the Charity Commission. It always reveals such fascinating reminders of the achievements that we made that it deserves a greater audience than just a handful of strangers. This year’s review will likely prove no different as I put digit to keyboard to produce my 6th Annual Report for the branch.

December 2012 marked my 4th year in post as Branch Manager, a year that has been typified by one thing – a relentless onslaught of work. There has been no seasonal lulls, no chance to take a breather, it has simply been full throttle all year round and we are all pretty weary as a result.
Stanley pup was abandoned in a box in freezing temperatures.

Christmas did not bring the much longed for ‘down time’; instead it brought more admissions than ever as puppies and kittens were rescued by the inspectorate.

12 week old Noel was found Xmas Eve dumped in an industrial bin.

Our records of achievements illustrate just how and why we have been so busy in 2012:

2012 Animal Rehoming Activity

Animals Taken in = 469
Cats = 302 (2011 = 208)
Dogs = 66 (2011 = 45)
Rabbits = 88 (2011 = 19)
Misc = 19 (2011 = 1)

468 of the animals were RSPCA generated

Animals Rehomed = 411
Cats = 276 (2011 = 195)
Dogs = 53 (2011 = 37)
Rabbits = 63 (2011 = 39)
Misc = 19 (2011 = 4)

Pre-Adoption Home Visits = 406

Animals Returned Post-Adoption = 12

Animals Died = 12

Animals Euthanased = 23

For the first time in an Annual Report I am sharing some statistics that typically attract a swell of critics but the fact is the national RSPCA rescues from the most pitiful and disturbing quarters and as a result we do not choose who we take in and it is this aspect that makes us so unique. What often comes with this is a complexity of needs to meet that are both physical and mental, such as Blue. 


Blue came into our care in October 2012 after recovering from repeated violent assaults by his owner, including a vicious assault to his skull with a hammer. Blue bears the scars both mentally and physically of his ordeal but we have worked hard to rehabilitate him and now we await the offer of a home for him. It’s a long time coming but we will keep holding on for as long as he can cope with kennel life.

Euthanasia is the most distressing part of the work our branch does but it is not done because an animal hasn’t found a home, but because their welfare is compromised. This could be physical or mental suffering, which we believe we are duty bound to alleviate.

In my opinion the RSPCA is an organisation to whom the whole of society is indebted to, for without them we would have nothing comparable. The RSPCA does something unique, that no other charity or organisation in this country does: it recues and seeks to rehabilitate the most damaged animals in society. The RSPCA seeks justice on behalf of these voiceless victims of cruelty and wins 98% the cases it takes to court.

Let’s stop for a moment and consider this latter fact. We live in a country governed by statutory laws designed to protect us all and to ensure civil obedience. Upholding the law is not the responsibility of a charity, yet no one else has the funds or expertise to do this. Like us, or hate us, there would be few, if any, statutory animal welfare laws or justice for abused animals if it weren’t for the RSPCA – a non-government funded charity.

Our primary role as a branch, the RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch (an independent charity in itself), is to assist the local inspectorate by taking in, caring for and, wherever possible, rehoming these rescued animals. Our rehoming stats for 2012 have bucked the trend nationwide – most have seen a decline or remained the same, but as you can see we have seen a dramatic rise in adoptions.

The secret of our success? Well, no doubt our strong online presences, our excellent reputation for animal welfare and intimate knowledge of our animals all contribute, but I’m a firm believer in people power. We are only as strong as we are because of the people who stand behind us, supporting, willing us to carry on. It is to our team of 10 staff, 100+ volunteers and countless supporters that I say we owe our success to, as without them we are nothing.

2012 Animal Welfare Activity

Owned Animals Received Free Microchipping = 403

Animals Attended
Free Pet Health Clinics = 203

Animals Welfare Neutered = 70

The other aspect of our work is promoting animal welfare in the community. 2012 saw us move our resources toward neutering and microchipping as opposed to free pet health clinics, because reducing the stray and unwanted animal population seems ever more pressing.


Income generation has obviously been of high priority in order to fund these additional activities. Our 3rd shop, in Didsbury, opened in July 2011 to help with these costs but it has not performed quite as pleasingly as we’d hoped for due to an increase in competition in the area. Nonetheless the shop has achieved a profit of £8k in its first full year of trading, but we know it can do more and hope that in 2013 it will raise in excess of £10k for the animals.

In November 2012 we have embarked on our biggest ambitious income generation project to date by signing a lease on a new shop in city centre Manchester. It is due to open mid-January and bucks the trend of traditional style charity shops and is uniquely designed in a boutique, chic style. We think acquisition of stock is going to be our biggest challenge here but we are really hopeful that there is plenty of money to be made.

Our other two shops, in Chorlton and Urmston, continue to serve us and the community proudly and have become a reliable source of income for our work thanks to the dedication of the staff teams and volunteers. Between them they raised a profit in excess of £55k in 2012, which makes a massive contribution toward the £300k+ it costs each year to fund our work.


Looking ahead to 2013 and there’s one major landmark on the horizon. In December our branch will be 50th years old. We have a number of very special events planned to mark our half century including a Vintage Garden Party on Saturday 18th May, Imperial War Museum Zipwire Challenge on Saturday 13th October and a Purrfect Birthday Party evening fundraiser on Saturday 23rd November. More details will be announced on our website shortly. We always need donations for our raffles and auctions so please let us know if you can help.
If you would like to help our work we are currently appealing for:

Volunteers for our Urmston, Didsbury and Northern Quarter shops.

Cat and kitten foster carers.

Cat home visitors for Sth Mcr area, next course 23rd Feb.

Stock donations for our shops. We can help you run a collection day at work so you can make a really big difference!

rspcamcr_salford@btconnect.comTo express your interest in any of the above please email