Saturday, 28 May 2016

Bobby the baby bunny

I have written and rewritten the start of this blog post countless times. The story needs to be told but how to do it justice weighs down heavy; the responsibility so great. I feel I must start by saying what a privilege it has been to care for this animal, to have been entrusted with his care and to be thought so capable of doing my/our level best by him. His name is Bobby and his story distressing, the images revolting, but I will not shy away from showing you what the work of the RSPCA involves.

Bobby on arrival

Bobby came to the RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch at around 7 weeks of age. When his condition was described to me over the phone I recoiled, but not half as much as I did in reality when I touched his tiny body for the first time. Bobby had been kept in a 4ft hutch along with his sizeable, and unneutered, mother and father. Predictably mum had conceived once again, soon after giving birth to Bobby. As is the case when a doe is due to give birth she typically attacks the remaining litter to alienate them and protect her new young. But in a 4ft hutch with nowhere to go the injuries inflicted on Bobby were the worst I have ever seen in the 19 years I have been working in animal rescue.

It’s not uncommon to see injuries on the first litter when another is due, and over the years I have commonly seen missing or mutilated ears, injuries to the nose, eyes and bobtail, but never to the extent had I seen on Bobby. The entirety of Bobby’s back can be best described as feeling like a shell, like a tortoise shell. From neck to tail he was one undulating mass of dense, infected scab. The repeated attacks this bunny must have endured defies comprehension, how he was alive seemed nothing but a miracle. He could not use his back legs, but it was unclear whether this was due to the extensive wounding or a birth defect.

Bobby's back, the fur all matted, masking the extent of his injuries.

The situation really did look bleak but he was eating well and enabling us to handle him to give him medication, so we kept him confined in an indoor cage to prevent  him from over exerting himself, although I needn’t have worried about that because it soon became apparent just how restricted his mobility was. Yet still he had a ferocious appetite and healthy poops – a good sign a bunny is doing well.

As time went on the scab started to raise and as gruesome as this sounds you could see daylight through it as it literally began to lift from his back.

As the scab lifted and dried the infection became more apparent but with air getting to the site it started to improve. It took several days before it came off altogether and then he looked like a burns victim. He looked so raw and sore but the relief the scabbing had gone was immediately evident because within 20 minutes he was standing on his back legs for the first time since he had arrived. I confess I got over excited about this, but it was just an absolute joy to see.

We then gradually gave him more space to play in and he each time he grabbed the chance to explore. Within three days he was free-roaming and loving having the freedom to move. His back legs gradually began to regain function, and aside from the scarring on his back, the only other tell-tale of his past was the way he held himself. Best described as looking like his skin was too tight, which it probably was as the healing was taking place.

The scab that came off Bobby's back

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since Bobby came into our care at the RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch. The physical scaring maybe nearly gone but the emotional damage is not. It is unlikely Bobby will want any contact with another rabbit in the future, and his flighty, timid nature will likely see him wait many months to be adopted, but regardless of these impediments Bobby will remain with us until that day a special person comes along to offer him a home.

I hope I never see another ‘Bobby’ for as long as I live. What he endured, how he suffered, should never been allowed again, but we all know that there is always going to be an animal somewhere suffering, in need of the RSPCA. Myself and all my colleagues, whether that is branch, national or front line field staff value your support so much, you keep us going. But it’s the Bobby bunnies that actually motivate us to get us out of bed each day. Thank you for enabling us to do what we do, it is an honour.

To help with Bobby's recovery and care please consider sponsoring our staff Susie and Deb who are shaving their hair to raise money for the care of the animals. Donate here.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Our fearless staff take up the challenge for our animals!

Well, the Great British Curl Off is less than 3 weeks away, as well as several lovely supporters taking up the challenge 2 of our staff members have also decided to put their money (and hair) where their mouth is! Donate today!

Deborah, animal supervisor at RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch, explains why she is taking part in The Great British Curl Off to raise money for the RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch.

''So why the head shave, I hear you ask? Well I’ve been super brave over the past few years and have zip wired from the Imperial war museum, abseiled down Europe’s tallest brick built light house and last year almost bottled it over abseiling down the bell tower at the Trafford centre. I felt like all my bravery had been used up so what option did I have left but to make a fool of myself. Obviously I do this on a daily basis but it needed to be something quite shocking to raise as much money as possible for the animals, so a head shave seemed to be the obvious choice.

For the past few years my hair has been pretty short and I’ve even had a good half of my head shaved by choice, but losing my long blonde streak that sits proudly across the left side of my head will be painful. Not only does it keep my head warm but it also hides my many blemishes and general dirt that builds up throughout the day. I will be very sad to see it on the floor being swept away. But I love animals too much to be shallow, thinking about all the cute cats, kittens, rabbits and guinea pigs, oh not forgetting rats that need rehabilitating and rehoming by our RSPCA branch makes it all worthwhile. Plus I may look cool and New Age and not at all butch or ill, we shall find out on June the 4th. I’m just praying that there isn’t a giant birth mark or strange skin flap lying under my blonde baby hair!''

Susie, Branch Manager at RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch, explains why she is shaving off her locks. 

''When Deborah first came up with the idea of shaving our heads to raise money for the branch I instantly thought, I can do that. But then I spent the next three months thinking about it, after all, a fat, middle aged woman going bald is hardly an attractive proposition! But once I decided I was going to commit to it I thought I had better break the news to my husband. I needn’t have worried, he was ace. He was totally supportive from the moment the words came tumbling out of my mouth and has now decided to shave his long locks off too (they are past his shoulders).

Shaving my head has now become a bit of bucket list thing for me and even my best mate Julie has decided to join us and get the lot lopped off. For me this shows how much love there is for our charity and the animals we care for. Me, my husband and our Julie are all middle aged and really should know better, but what’s a bit of humiliation amongst friends, work colleagues, family, the wider public? Oh no, the stares, the gawps the pointing of fingers –what have I agreed to do! I’m seriously going to need an audience on the day to make sure I go through with this challenge, so we have a special event taking place for our volunteers, staff and supporters to watch us go through with it.

The Fire and Ice challenge I did for the branch in 2014 saw me pretty much reduced to tears as I had to face walking on broken glass, the hot coals not so much, but the glass saw me reduced to a wobbly mess. Shaving my head hair off maybe lunacy, and I may very well live to regret it, but if we raise plenty of money for the animals it will be worth have a sunburnt bonce for summer.''

Please dig deep and donate. 

Deborah, Susie and all our participants need the encouragement to go through with this one! 

You can do this by either sending a text to:
BALD02 £1/2/3/4/5 or £10 to 70070 
or visit the Just Giving site here

 This is what the outcome is likely to be!

Monday, 9 May 2016

The Great British Curl Off.... what is it all about?!

I keep hearing about The Great British Curl Off but what is it all about?

We are offering you the chance to be part of the ultimate fundraising event on Saturday 4th June 2016. But this event is not for everyone: this takes guts, determination and hair! Head hair, leg hair, chest hair, back hair and even, maybe, your eyebrows? That’s right; we are asking for you to lose your locks and fling out your follicles to raise money for the animals in our care and are looking for fearless folk to take part in this hair-raising fundraiser.  

The Challenges!

Challenge 1: Be Bold, Go Bald
Dare you go bald for bunnies and get an all-over cut for cats? 

We are looking for plucky people who are willing to undergo the ultimate challenge and shave their head! Watch your family and friends’ faces as you lose every single one of your lovely locks. There are sure to be tears in the house but think of the relief of not having to wash and style your hair for the following weeks!

NB If your hair is a minimum 7” in length you can donate it to The Little Princess Trust who make wigs for children suffering hair loss.

Challenge 2: Wax On, Wax Off
Bring out your inner reptile and get rid of your body hair. Choose from a chest, back or leg wax – or maybe pledge to do all three!

Only hairy people can apply for this option, or else where would the challenge lie? You know what they say – no pain, no gain!

Challenge 3: Raise a few eyebrows
This is truly not for the vain! Have your eyebrows removed and discover what the inner alien in you looks like!

How you’ll help our animals
Ever wondered what it would take for you to shave your hair off? Or how much people will pay to see you suffer in pain as your back is waxed? Or what you would look like with no eyebrows? Well now is your chance to find out. 

In return for taking the challenge
If you pledge your vanity to us not only will we be forever indebted to you for helping us to care for so many fluffy, furry, hairy animals but we will treat you to afternoon tea beforehand and a motivational insight into the work of the RSPCA Manchester & Salford branch. You and your guests (up to 3) can spend a fun afternoon with our staff and volunteers indulging in cake, quizzes and quips about our work.

Running order!

Doors open to participants and their guests (max 3).


The afternoon tea and talk for our brave Curl Off'ers and their guests will start!

The Great British Curl Off will commence from 4.30pm. Please feel free to invite as many family and friends as you like to watch the main event but no earlier please!

Further Information
If you would like to discuss The Great British Curl Off with the organiser please contact Susie Hughes on 0161 882 0680 (select opt 4) or email

Our next blog will feature our brave staff who will be joining you on the day to take the ultimate challenge too......