Sunday, 13 April 2014

Marathon Effort

Since a child I've been in awe of the participants of the London Marathon. Such an inspirational sight witnessing thousands of runners taking part in such a legendary sporting event. More than anything, I enjoy hearing the life stories of the runners, the motivations behind the running and, of course, the costumes!

Today is the first time since my last blog in February that I've had a weekend off. It's the reason for such a long delay in posting a new blog. It has, to say the least, been quite a difficult start to the year and the latest management accounts reveal the extent of our troubles. It isn't from poor management, it's from hard times with our shops, fewer donations and increasing 'direct charitable expnditure'. The latter being 'what we do': taking in and looking after the animals rescued by the inspectors. Few know that each branch is independent and has to raise its own funds to finance it's work. We, just like any other charity, are reliant on the generosity of the public to fund our work, but in times where working people can't even afford to feed themselves we  are a luxury few can afford.

It really is quite simple: income and expenditure need to match each other but currently there is a gulf between the two. It means that the less income we have, the more we have to dip into reserve funds. The more we dip in, the greater the risk of us not surviving beyond a year or two, at best.

So far this year we are on our 3rd cattery closure  due to cat flu. Not only does this effect us being able to help cats in need but it means increased veterinary costs, we are not generating interest in our cats (because we have so few for people to adopt) and we have a loss of income from adoption fees. In addition, we still have the outgoing, set costs of the cattery whether there is a cat in there or not. Not a great picture at all.

Then we have the ongoing troubles with am original group of 11 guinea pigs we admitted from a rescue where approximately 70 were kept in one home in shocking conditions. We are 5 weeks down the line and we are still battling with ill health amongst them all. The cost of treating them has escalated to well over £500 and, worst of all, we've lost 3 so far despite our best efforts. Since admission the stork has arrived and the 11 is now 18 and counting!
Tallulah gave birth to three babies this week but just two survived

The rabbit situation is probably the most stressful if I'm honest, because there is just no end to the apparent suffering of these poor animals and the sheer volumes being rescued is just ridiculous. There simply isn't enough spaces in the region to accommodate the vast numbers being rescued, despite ours and many other branch's best efforts. Most frustrating for us all is the number that come in as stray. I wonder whether people are aware that rabbits can be microchipped? But, just like cats and dogs and ferrets this is the only sure-fire way to reunite people with their missing animal. (For Rabbit Awareness Week in May we will be funding several activities offering free microchipping to all owned rabbits, please check our website for full information.)

I know this is quite a common report from me about the rabbits, but honestly, we have double what we can afford and something is going to have to give pretty soon because the funds simply aren't there to sustain this constant barrage of rescue rabbits. 

As for the dogs? I sat in a meeting this week involving lots of other branches in the region and everyone concurred that increasingly the dogs our inspectors rescue have had shocking starts to life and come with so many troubles that they require extensive rehabilitation and very special forever homes. This, inevitably, costs time and money; something that we commit to but means that each length of stay per dog is ever increasing and of course increasingly costly. Last year the cost to care for one dog, excluding staffing costs, was £428. We ask for adoption of £100, which means for each dog we take in we have to fundraise £328 to provide for their care. Taken over the year that's over £17,000 we need to raise just to take in 52 dogs (assuming we receive £100 adoption fee per dog we admit).
Rufus went to his new home yesterday. You can see how happy he is! He was rescued at 8 months old. He had a terrible start to life living:  never let out, along with 5 cats, and all toileting all over the house; he was frightened of his shadow and now he is king of his castle.

It soon becomes apparent just how easy it is get into financial struggles when you breakdown the cost of caring for such deserving and needy animals. But we have been exceedingly blessed this year with the offer of such fantastic homes for the dogs we've had in our care. They have all been troubled souls, all as result of their ill treatment, but they have so far gone on to find such special homes with people who have been willing to commit to a life-time of learning, upheaval and compromise.

Adopting a rescue dog is without doubt a life-style choice and one that is so utterly rewarding that it is no wonder to me why people do it time and time again. But it is also exhausting, it can push you to your limits and find yourself longing for a lie-in, a day off or a holiday! It is rescue dog adopters who I feel deserve the recognition and appreciation; they are a unique and dedicated species that make the difference between life and death to so very many animals.

As I watch the marathon runners exhaust themselves round London I think of the dog adopters who commit themselves to our victims of abuse, neglect and throw-away society. They give meaning to our work, provide us with hope and above all give a life-time of love to animals that need it as much, if not more, than any other. I shall watch the marathon today and think about you all.
Dana and Daniel were a multi-animal rescue from terrible conditions. Here they are pictured, yesterday, newly arrived in the forever home.

All animal adopters are, arguably, the most important aspect of animal rescue. Without you all we cannot keep admitting new animals. One day I hope the majority of people choose adopting a rescue animal the first port of call when looking for a new family member. For now, I'll settle with getting through the kitten season in one piece!