Saturday, 20 April 2013

Scaling Back

Butterscotch was born in our care last year and for a reasons beyond us he's still with us.
I'm enjoying a rare moment of peace, as my house rabbits snooze and the puppy is having a mooch. It won't last long but that's my own fault for filling the house with so many wonky animals!

You'd be hard pushed to find anyone who works (or is a relative of someone who works) in animal welfare that doesn't have at least one member of the family as a result of their work. Anyone who is able to resist has my total and utter admiration! But paying for the animals when they become ill is something not everyone seems to anticipate when they take on a companion animal.

I'll not lie, I'm guilty of falling for too many bobtails and not always thinking through the consequences of potential ill health, but then I am armed with pet insurance and a expectant attitude. I am surrounded by friends and colleagues (not that there's a differentiation) who similarly go to the ends of the earth for their animals. So, when we get the calls in (on a weekly basis) from someone who cannot even get their pet to the RSPCA animal hospital for treatment, it can, at times, prove hard to have empathy for the human owner. Don't get me wrong, we all need a helping hand at times, but when there is help available but someone still insists on more it is hard to contain feelings of disappointment.

Take for example a recent call from someone who had left their dog suffering with an illness for 5 days, slowly getting more and more ill. The reason for not seeking veterinary help was because 'money is tight cos we're going on holiday tomorrow'.

I hope your heart sank, just like mine did, when you heard those words in your head. I wish I could tell you that that type of call is rare, but it isn't. There seems to be an attitude amongst some fractions of society that a problem is always someone else's except theirs. I've seen it in the varied careers I've had over the years from seeing parents believe it is not their duty to get their child to go to school, to people who don't see there are consequences to the crimes they commit. Yup, always someone else's problem but their own.

Some people think that the RSPCA must have an unending amount of cat and kennel spaces and money to deal with every animal problem that exists. We get people ringing about all sorts of random things like removing ducks that are sitting on a lawn, pigeons hobbling on Market Street or a pet hamster someone is bored of and wants 'to get rid'. Contrary to popular belief there really is limited resources and finances.

I think people don't know or forget that the RSPCA is a charity and everything it does is done on a voluntary basis. It means that the RSPCA cannot be everything to all people, and inevitably that can create disappointment and frustration in the public sometimes. There are, however, waves and waves of people who do understand and do support our work, to whom we are incredibly grateful. Alas, goodwill alone is not going to see us through these hard times.

Our charity, the RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch, is facing closure. This is not said to shock but to merely state the reality of what we are facing. We are not alone, so many other branches are in a similar position. We have just three months reserves left and if things continue the way they are we could well have to close by the end of the year.

Income is at an all-time low. The shops have seen the worst sales in years, adoption figures are the worst in nearly two years and donations are few. I know you've heard me say this before, but things really are very bleak.

We've been forced to close our doors to dog, rabbit and guinea pig admissions in a bid to claw back costs (no pun intended). We are scaling back staffing levels where we can and upping the fundraising effort. There is a  solid month activities ahead to try and boost income and raise our profile. Of course a month isn't enough, but it's a start and it's an indication of how determined we all are to survive.

Today saw a great start to it all with a vinyl records sale  at the Didsbury shop for 'record day'. Thankfully we received massive support and for the first time this year the shop not only reached target but exceeded it too. A massive team effort from the staff and a very big well done to them all, I;m sure you'll agree.

Tomorrow the Northern Quarter shop are taking part in St George's Day celebrations with a vintage stall at the Night and Day Cafe in Manchester and next week we have two microchipping events and two collections in Asda in Wythenshawe (that we need help with). The list goes on as we celebrate RSPCA Week (w/c 29th April), then Rabbit Awareness Week from 4th May, then on the 5th May we'll be at a street party on Edge Street in Manchester hosting a dog show. On 11th May is a joint venture with Eccles College....I think I'd better stop there, cos I could go on and on. You get the drift and can see more on our website.

The point is, we've hit desperate times. We need to reopen our doors to animals but until we make savings of £10k per month, or increase income by £10k a month, we simply can't. We'll do our best, that I promise, but we need you by our side.

Feeling deflated? Yeah, you're not alone.