Monday, 25 October 2010

My Big Fella

My big fella (pictured above) aptly named Biggun (full title Ivor Biggun), came from what we call a 'multiple animal case'.

My friend texted me on Friday to say the owner had finally been convicted and there was a full report about the awful conditions the 92 animals were kept in. I was really shocked by what I saw, I guess more than anything because we all rarely get to see just how bad things are.

Biggun was one of only two rabbits in the place, both of which we took in. One of the inspectors told me that his cage was so small that he couldn't fully lift his ears. Biggun is a Continental Giant.

To see the full report follow this link:

Biggun has definitely been 'damaged' by his past. He is incredibly territorial, highly values his space and possessions, he is a grumpy sod and can take offence at anything and anyone and isn't immune to boxing you when you aren't being quick enough with his breakfast or he has had enough of the loving strokes you are giving him. But whon wouldn't be after what he has been through. And besides, I love him so much and I'm so glad he is mine.

Quarterly Newsletter


How Are We Doing?
The truth is we are busier than ever and whilst we are pleased to report that rehomings have picked up after the post election blues, we are seeing ever increasing numbers of animals needing our help; and we fear things are just going to get worse with the latest announcement of government cuts.

We are unsurprisingly struggling financially still. Even our charity shops are feeling the pinch; we are not getting the donations or the customers like we used as people seem to be cutting back more and more. As a result, we are losing up to £1,000 a month alone from our shop income.

Financial donations are greatly down too and we fear the worst is yet to come. Sadly this is all happening at a time when we need financial support more than ever due to the intake of two cases of animals rescued by RSPCA inspectors from pitiful, squalid conditions.

One case is of 6 rabbits and the other case was of 430+ small animals in just one property, of which we took in 23 rabbits and 4 guinea pigs. This is 33 small animals in addition to the dozen we already had in our care (which is the maximum we can typically afford to care for) but when these desperate cases came along we had to rally round and help.

As a consequence we are launching the Rabbit Appeal this month; asking animal lovers to help us provide the extra 33 small animals in our care with the essential environmental enrichment they need to meet their needs to be kept occupied and stimulated.

We are also planning ahead for when the animals will, hopefully, be officially signed over to our care by the judges presiding over the cases and we can get them neutered and vaccinated at a cost of around £120 per rabbit.

Currently the animals can only receive essential veterinary care as they still technically belong to the owners. We only have the right to take care of them because the police have seized the animals for us.

Undoubtedly the most frustrating thing of all is that it could take upwards of 6 months for the prosecutions to reach conclusion, and then there is always the possibility that we won’t be successful and have to return them to their owners.

For the time being we have to put that thought out of our minds and give the animals the best care they could wish for, but it is disheartening to know they will have to wait indefinitely for the new homes and lives they deserve. This is all the more tragic for the five four week old baby rabbits that will miss out on growing up and being enjoyed in a loving home.

If you would like to donate any rabbit toys please bring them along to our Urmston or Chorlton charity shop. You can also make a financial donation via our website at or by sending us a cheque to the address below. And if you are a rabbit savvy owner and would like to help us care for and socialise the bunnies please get in touch.

Will You Join Us In Wonderland?
On Friday 12th November we will be holding our biggest fundraiser of the year at Chorlton Irish Club on High Lane in Chorlton – a Madhatter’s Tea Party no less!

Come and take a jolly tumble down the rabbit hole and join the Madhatter for a teaparty you will simply never forget. Bring a smile as wide as the Cheshire Cat and please don't be late or you will miss out on our fabulous entertainment including our magician, live music, comedy turns and a spectacular alternative dance troupe. There will be oodles of mysterious cakes, jam tarts, great music and a fully licenced bar, so follow the white rabbit and watch out for flamingos on your way to the greatest party in all the land!

Advance tickets £7 from our Chorlton charity shop or £8 on the door (50p off for concessions). Doors 7.30pm, first act 8.15pm. Full line up can be seen on our website.

Dog Demands
One of the saddest things we have seen over the last few months has been an unprecedented influx of young dogs needing our help. It seems that new dog owners are underestimating the demands and needs of puppies and before long are finding themselves unable to cope with unruly, ill trained, unsocialised dogs. So far these dogs have ranged from 3 months to 12 months of age and it is just tragic to see these poor animals ill cared for, unwanted and homeless through no fault of their own.

No less tragic is the story of Lily, pictured above. Lily’s home was a car, locked inside with her litter mate Diaz because her owners were not allowed pets in them home they shared with their landlord. Lily was only 9 months old when she came into our care but is now nearly 18 months old, having being adopted twice and returned to us each time. Each time Lily’s needs were underestimated, meaning she has now had several places she has called home and has let been let down too many times, including by us.

We are desperate to find Lily a new home, preferably on a farm or in a home where outdoor pursuits are enjoyed daily. She is a cracking little energetic dog that needs someone that will give her the stimulation and activity that she needs.

Can you give her the home that she needs? Please contact us if you can.

Social Networking
This year, not only have we launched our new website but we are embracing the potential delights social networking sites have to offer charities such as ours.

We need friends! So please sign up to our new Facebook site where you can see and learn all about the animals in our care and the events we have going on. Search for us under RSPCA Manchester and Salford Branch.

Want our Tweets? Join us on Twitter @rspcamcrsalford and receive daily updates on our work and join in on the discussion board.

Of course you can still follow the ups and downs of our animal rescue work with our blog, which continues to be ever popular at

Dates For Your Diary
Sun 31st Oct Halloween Quiz Nite
Test your knowledge on all the things that go bump in the night at our Halloween themed quiz night.
At My Place, formerly The Lounge Bar, next door to Chorlton precinct entrance on Wilbraham Road. Doors 7pm, quiz starts 7.30pm, £1 pp entry.

Sat 6th Nov 11-3pm Pet Health Clinic
Free veterinary health checks for cats and dogs, plus £1 microchipping & discounted flea and worming treatment. Rainbow Community Rooms, 275 Liverpool Rd, Eccles, M30 0QN

Fri 12th Nov 7.30pm til late Madhatter’s Tea Party
Enjoy an evening of eclectic entertainment and wonderment with the Madhatter and his friends at Chorlton Irish Club, High Lane, Chorlton, M21. Doors 7.30pm, adv tix £7, on door £8 (conc. 50p off). Dare you enter the rabbit hole?

Sun 14th Nov 4.30-7.00pm £3 Microchipping for all pets at St John’s Church, Irlam Road, Flixton, M41 6AP. No appointment necessary.

Sat 4th Dec 11-3pm All Pets Xmas Party
Come join us for our annual Xmas fair plus FREE veterinary health checks for all pets, £3 microchipping and discount flea and worming treatment. St Matthew’s Church Hall, opposite Stretford Arndale, on Chapel Lane of Stretford Road.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Reptile Roadshow - The Results Are In!

RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch

Reptile welfare first came to the branch’s attention in late 2008/early 2009 when the RSPCA inspectorate working in the Manchester & Salford area investigated several cases involving reptiles.

The branch had by now established a programme of animal welfare promotion, mainly involving the delivery of free pet health clinics to communities that did not have easy access to veterinary services whether that be through geographical or financial restrictions. Rarely were reptiles seen at these clinics despite always having (and advertising) the presence of an exotic vet specialist.

When the branch secured a grant from the national RSPCA to deliver ten pet health clinics during 2010 the idea of trialling a Reptile Roadshow came to mind. The branch had long been running very successful specialist Rabbit and Guinea Pig Roadshows and so the hope was that an event specifically for reptiles might reach these creatures and their owners and offer a wealth of advice and support to all.

What We Hoped to Achieve

Each time we delver a free pet health clinic our goal is to:
· help animals whose owners may not be able to afford routine health care
· help as many people and animals stay together during this time of financial hardship
· offer affordable microchipping and treatment for fleas and worms
· help prevent or alleviate illness and/or suffering
· help raise awareness about welfare needs and best practices
· offer further financial assistance with veterinary treatment, subject to availability and means testing

The goal was no different on this occasion accept with one added hurdle – overcoming prejudices amongst reptile keepers toward the RSPCA. Unfortunately the RSPCA is not popular amongst all fractions of society and previously it was felt by many reptile keepers that the RSPCA had a limited and scant understanding and knowledge about reptile keeping. Whilst we were fully aware that the odds would be slightly stacked against us we have never been a branch to avoid a challenge.

How We Achieved It
The branch is fortunate to have some very good friends in the reptile world, namely leading environmentalist and conservationist Crocodile Joe ( , tortoise expert and welfarist Debs Glanville, trainee exotic vet Sarah Pellet and one of the most prominent exotic vets in the country, Molly Varga. In fact, Molly is one of only four vets in private practice in the UK to hold the qualifications in exotic medicine that she has.

The team of experts provided invaluable help and support in setting up and running the roadshow and their credentials enabled us to approach reptile forums, tortoise charities and leading purveyors of reptile products with confidence and clarity of vision.

We received the most fantastic support from Practical Reptile Keeping magazine, Vet Ark and Bio-Care. The publicity achieved enabled us to reach a far wider audience than we could have hoped for whilst the product samples enabled us to offer free samples to animals in need and in the process educate owners about their availability and necessity.

At each event Crocodile Joe held court; educating and advising visitors on best husbandry practices for their reptiles. He was able to easily demonstrate these practices with his exhibition vivariums and expert handling skills. Undoubtedly Joe stole the show each day and added a really vital dimension to the roadshow because we all -staff, volunteers and visitors alike - learnt so much from his infectious enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge and experience.

Debs Glanville worked tirelessly talking at length with tortoise owners; offering alternative husbandry ideas, dietary and care advice and never failed to ‘coo’ over each and every tortoise that came along! To be honest, we could have done with cloning Debs, such was the demand for her helpful hints and advice.

But of course the main draw was the free health checks and advice offered by the exotic vets. Over the two roadshow dates a total of 98 animals were health checked for free in just 8 hours! By far the most popular animals that attended were tortoises followed by bearded dragons. More unusual visitors included a chameleon, red headed aganas, a white tree frog and a pastel boa.

Microchipping was not so much in demand as we had thought, even though we charging just £3 a time, as only 14 animals in total were microchipped and all of these were tortoises.

Attendance at each event proved surprising; the Saturday date in Stretford, South Manchester saw just 32 animals attend. Whereas the event that took place in Eccles on a Sunday saw 66 animals attend. If the funds are available for us to repeat the roadshow in 2011 we will head back to the Eccles event on a Sunday again, but this time in the height of summer, as the cold days would have definitely have deterred people from bring their animals out of their cosy, warm vivs.

As always, getting events publicised is the hardest bit but with the help of Practical Reptile Keeping and the local newspaper, Salford Advertiser, we received attendees as far away as the Lake District, Rhyl and Congleton in the heart of Cheshire. Hopefully, with having delivered this roadshow so successfully, word will get out about it and next time more people will feel able to trust our motivation and expertise.

Of the animals that were brought along the most striking cases were that of a recently rescued tortoise that had metabolic bone disease and septicaemia. We also saw a bearded dragon with septicaemia and plenty many examples of tortoises that had at some point not received sufficient calcium in their diet and developed deformed shells.
The highlights for the vets were the larger tortoises that came along, including a Burmese and a Leopard. The latter Molly had not seen before in all her years of private practice work. Both vets stated that they consistently saw well cared for animals whose owners had a better than average knowledge about good reptile keeping and had clearly come along to check they were doing things right and to get more helpful hints and ideas.

Of course what this does mean is that we were not successful in reaching the people whose welfare practices may need some additional support, and to be honest, we are not sure quite how we reach these people in the future. In addition, as the vets said, it can sometimes be harder to tell if your reptile is ailing (than amore common companion animal) so people may not know there is a problem until it the condition has progressed or it is too late.

The two day Reptile Roadshow cost over £1,000. All in all we feel it has been a success and hope that we have started something that we can build upon in the future. Ideally we would like to begin to develop a more trusting relationship with reptile owners and offer our services to many more of these magnificent creatures.

In the meantime we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along and supported the event and even bigger thank you to our team of volunteers, experts and the very wonderful reptiles that we met, because without you all we really could not have done it.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Hope Springs Eternal.....Sometimes

I have tried so hard this week to snatch half an hour to update the blog but it has been a really hectic week. I've clocked up well over 55 hours so far and it's only Friday. But, I tell you what, it has all been worth it and I'm just itching to tell you all our news.

We don't normally take in what we term 'case animals'; these are ones who have been removed from their owner and the owner is subject to further investigation with a view to prosecution due to neglect/causing suffering/failing to seek veterinary treatment/abandonment etc - you get the picture. The reason we don't normally take in these kinds of animals is because we don't have our own animal rehoming centre and so pay to board our animals at various boarding establishments.

It therefore makes a lot more sense for us to prioritise our limited spaces - 11 in the cattery, 8 in the kennels and in theory 12 small animal spaces - for animals available for adoption (e.g. because they have been abandoned, signed over, found stray etc). And to be honest animal centres are better equipped to look after case animals because it usually takes months for a case to come to conclusion and the animals has stay in our care all that time in case the owner wins the case and the judge orders the return of the animal(s).

But two weeks ago I got a call asking for help with what is arguably got to be the biggest multiple animal case we have ever seen. Thankfully, our small animals boarder has massive capacity outside of peak holiday seasons and was able to accommodate quite a few more than we normally can afford to house there so I agreed to take in 20 small animals.

(I must mention at this point two things: 1. we already have 6 case rabbits from another investigation/prosecution that we took in a week before this call, and 2. I have to be suitably vague about details so as to not jeopardise any investigations and future potential prosecutions.)

We went to collect the 20 animals a week ago, after they had been removed from the owner, only to come away with 27. I know, far more than we can possibly afford but they needed us and at times of crisis I feel us branches have to rally around together and do what we can. Long term I have no idea how we are going to afford the additional costs of neutering, vaccinations, health care etc when they are, hopefully, able to be rehomed, but as it could be months down the line yet I'm just putting it to the back of my mind.

The other confession I must make is the same day the call came through about the large animal case one of our inspectors had got a call about 7 baby bunnies abandoned in a box. Guess what happened to them.....yes, they are boinging around my house! However, two have found homes with friends of ours so I've not got quite as many...though that is a poor defence as another new admission came home with me today - a gorgeous bunny lad found stray in Sth Mcr with the usual dental problems and unable to eat. We had caught gut stasis just in time and he has a dental and is happily recovering at mine for the weekend (it was fair to say husband was not amused when I called to forewarn him).

As you are probably gathering, with so many animals whose owners are subject to potential prosecution, there is ill health aplenty and that is why it has been such a hectic week because we've had our normal workload to do too a swell seeing to all the extras. But like I say, I wouldn't have it any other way because we are helping when and where it is most needed.

So, the current count on small furries in our care (not including Buffy and Duffy who are going to their new home tomorrow - hooray!) is: 44 small furries. Yeah, I know, that's a helluva lot of fluff! I just hope we get to keep them and find them new homes.

On to cat news....the suspected case of ringworm was confirmed but thankfully had not gone beyond Sally cat. We were finally able to reopen the cattery last weekend and as a result had 4 cats reserved - Starry, Thomas, Izzy & Winston and they should all be leaving us to go to brighter futures in the next few days, which is a good job as we have to take in 4 on Monday.

On top of this we have newbie Wanda today who was found abandoned and Hendrix who was in a terrible RTA and had to have his leg amputated. Both are absolutely beautiful cats and I'm sure they will be snapped up quickly.

So, last news of all to share is dog updates. In fact, there is so much to tell that I'm not sure where to start but needless to say we have had a steady flow of interest in our new furries up for adoption. Little puppy Sophie, who was found stray in a field with bite wounds to her face and neck, has found a home and is going Sunday and we have lots of new admissions and 3 viewings booked in to see our dogs over the weekend - magic stuff!

So, I just want to finish this week with an 'in memory' bit. Exactly two weeks ago the two puppies pictured, Jake (left) and Elwood (right) were taken into the RSPCA animal hospital desperately ill with an absolutely terrible, terrible worm burden that had left them seriously malnourished, desperately dehydrated and fighting for their lives. They were only approx 7 weeks old.

It soon transpired that the owners provided false contact info as they could not be reached. This was confirmed two days later when an inspector was sent to check out the address. I can only hope that they were too ashamed to provide correct details and were embarrassed for not having sought help for these babies sooner.

After 6 days of hospitalisation the boys had appeared to have stopped passing live worms and appeared well enough to go into foster care with our Mel. But that night they went downhill, passing live worms out of both ends and became very lethargic. The next morning we took them to our regular vet and they were hospitalised immediately. Thereon in began an enormous effort by all the staff to save the puppies.

At first we lunged from one hour to the next, clinging to hope. Then from morning to afternoon to evening. We never made it from day to day but by Wednesday Jake had seriously bounced back and was ready to be discharged. Sadly, desperately, Elwood was slipping further away from us; his diagnosis uncertain but was treated with the utmost diligence and care yet by Thursday he was a shadow of himself and could barely lift his head. There was only one kind option left and that was to let him go.

Despite the best medical care money could buy this poor little lad died a needless death. I'm not sure I can forgive the people who allowed this to happen to him; he was only a baby, a trusting dependent, a needy, vulnerable baby. What we need now is massive dose of hope and faith that Jake will make it through - so please keep everything crossed for him.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

More Roadshow Photos

Aren't animals amazing.

Reptile Roadshow

Today really was just so much fun. We held our first ever Reptile Roadshow and it was just absolutely amazing. We were all like kids in a sweet shop - we met so many amazing creatures; I think the pictures really say it all.

Of my favourites were a chocolate and lime type coloured king snake, 'Yellow' the bearded dragon and 'Bud' the chameleon, oh and I mustn't forget Molly the giant spider (the proper name alludes me but she was so beautiful).

We can't wait for the second one next Sunday, 17th Oct 11-3 at the Rainbow Community Rooms on Liverpool Street in Eccles. I really hope we get to meet even more amazing creatures.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Dedicated Followers of Fashion

Mel and Catherine were out in the torrential rain today walking the dogs. Good to see spirits were high despite the weather. The dogs had a ball and we even managed to coax our new dog Roxy out of her kennel and for a play in the paddock - she loved it!

More about Rosie and all our newbies next time....

Tomorrow we are off to Great Ayton Animal Centre to help with the most biggest multiple animal case ever. Can't say too much but we are taking in just a small fraction, 20 rabbits, and I mean a small fraction.

More to follow, but in the meantime - how ace are Mel and Catherine? Very.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Theme of the week...

...has most definitely been 'abandonment', but it all feels really positive because we've been able to be there for the animals and take them in. So, let me tell you who we've met this week.

Well, first up was little Sophie, the cutest little leggy staffie cross pup ever! She is approx 10 weeks old and was found on a field all on her own with cuts to her face and neck. To be honest, they look like bite wounds from a bigger creature having mouthed/bitten her. They ahd to be flushed out under anaesthetic but they are healing nicely and she is now safe and sound in the care of one of wonderful foster mum's. She is very adorable, but very hard work like puppies can be at this age, and the foster kittens in the same home are still quite unsure about her, even though she is smaller than them!

We willbe able to look for a home for Sophie in seven days time and I have no doubt she will get snapped up; she really is so sweet.

I heard about the next cutie pie just after I had dropped off Sophie at her foster home. A puppy had been found tied to the railings of a block of flats with all his belongings and a very sore paw. He was taken to our animal hospital for the night and I collected him the following morning.

The poor love had a fracture to his leg, which is presumably why someone has abandoned him because they were worried about vet costs. Fred, as we've called him, is doing really well and the fracture is able to heal on it's own with the help of pain relief. But what a smashing lad he is. He is about 4 months old and good as gold. Fred sleeps through the night in his crate without any trouble, he is toilet trained and he loves his cuddles and is great with all his foster mum's other dogs too. He seems to be a crossed with a staffie and something like a collie and whilst he isn't likely to win 'Most Handsome' in a dog show his personality well and truly makes up for it. Fred is ace.

We have to wait 21 days before we can rehome Fred because an 'abandonment notice' has had to be served, but his leg will need a while to heal anyway so it's not too bad and he's lurvely!

And, if that wasn't enough excitement for one week, a box of 7 baby rabbits was abandoned on a member of the public's doorstep so guess who has seven babies hopping around her home? Yes, me, the greedy bunny lady!

One of them, Sky, was about a third bigger than the rest and was bullying all the others so I had to separate her. She also doesn't look anything like the others but presumably they are from the same litter? I guess we will never know....

The pics above show all but Sky. There is Juniper, Twiglet, Jeffrey, Horace, Penelope and Pogo. How good are those names? Not guilty - Hannah is. I drafted her in to help sex and name them as she is infinitely better at naming than I am. They are a lot smaller in real life than they look in the pics but they are every bit as gorgeous and they are ever so friendly. They absolutely adore their hay, which is so good, and they are going to make the most wonderful companion animals when they are old enough. In the meantime I get the pleasure of baby bunnies (eating me out of house and home). I really love them. (I think you all have got the picture by now that anything furry, but especially with a bobtail, gets very big thumbs up!)

We also admitted this week a lovely 1 year old lab x collie called Buster and on her way in, in fact as I type, is a female American Bull Dog. Sadly, we have no movement on the cat front and remain closed to visitors as the skin test results have not yet come back. Even more troubling news on the cat front is that some of our kittens are looking likely to have cat herpes and so we are now waiting results on them too. The cats really are having a tough time of it so we have been spoiling them all this week with fresh chicken and gourmet pouches.

I remain upbeat though, and after having done our rehoming statistics for September there is every reason to be so. We rehomed 27 animals in total - 6 dogs, 9 rabbits (which is a record) and 12 cats. That really is the first time we have rehomed more rabbits/dogs than cats. I really am not sure why but hopefully things will pick up on the cat front soon for their sake and so we can help more as the demand again this week to take in cats as been just as bad.

Tomorrow we are celebrating World Animal Day (it's actually Mon 4th October but we wanted to share the celebration with as many people as possible). At our Chorlton shop we will be on hand to talk all things animal related and RSPCA and to share out cake. Yes, cake! So, if you are around between 11-1pm please drop by.

Actually Saturday is looking really hectic as we also have a volunteer home visitors training course in the morning and a craft workshop in the afternoon with Rock Corps volunteers helping us make props for our Madhatter's Tea Party in November. It's going to be a hectic day but I'm really looking forward to it. Bring on the cake!