Friday, 18 February 2011

Dog of a week

Usually I update my blog at home, on a day off, when I can sit and reflect on how things have been that week. Unfortunately, one of my delightful foster bunnies called Ollie (his owner is being prosecuted) decided to break into the 'back room' by determinedly scrabbling on it until it gave way and opened! What resulted was a clean chomp through the broadband cable.

It is customary when I get home that I ask how Ollie is because he isn't all that well, but on the day that this happened I was duly informed by hubby that Ollie was a 'lil @@@@@! Oh dear. Needless to say Ollie is absolutely fine but we are still internetless. So, I'm at work on a Friday night finishing off for the week (oh, how I love having two days off in a row) and thought I'd do my blog whilst I can.

This week has been really hard going for completely different reasons than the last one. The week started very badly with having to have our teddy bear Sian (a Chow) put to sleep on Monday afternoon. It truly was the pits. We had battled with her for nearly 4 months to try and overturn the effects on her after previously been kept for many years outdoors in all weather, with little shelter. Alas, after a lot of care and attention (and money), we were defeated when her cruciate ligament ruptured in her right back leg and the vet diagnosed that the one in the left back leg was on its way too.

We just couldn't put her through any more intervention and, to be honest, she look defeated and like she had had enough. He fight seemed to have gone of out of her and it was really about doing what was best by her and nothing at all to do with money.
We are all still devastated by her loss; she was beautiful, loving and so wonderfully good natured. She was our teddy bear. But it just feels like such an injustice and such a big blow to us all that we couldn't make things right.

On the same day Sian left us, newbie Queenie took up residence in the space that Elmo, the 10 year old yorkie, had occupied (having left for his new home on Saturday). We got a wonderful update from his new mum at the start of the week and it sounds like they are besotted with one another, which is just lovely. Anyway, Queenie was found abandoned in Derbyshire at the weekend in an appallingly emaciated state. We were warned she was thin, but my goodness is she ever.

We let her settle in for a couple of days and took her to the vets Wednesday where we were revolted to learn that she weighed just 12kg - she should be more like 20/25kg. She also had a catalogue of problems too:

1. she is currently in season and looks like she has either recently had pups and/or been used as a breeding machine
2. she may have demodex (mites) because she has lots of bald patches but hopefully it might just be due to a lack of nutrition
3. her tail tip is infected and may need amputation (she is on antibiotics)
4. her teeth are in very poor condition and she will require dental treatment when she is a better weight (each tooth extraction costs £30, not including the G.A. and cost of the scale and polish)
5. she has conjunctivitis which may or may not be being exacerbated by the entropian she has, and this entropian may need operating on

With her being 6-7 years old, dark brindle and a staffie it is so sad to admit that the chances of finding her a home, even if we do succeed in getting her back to health, are so slim. I confess that when I learnt about the catalogue of health problems my first thought was to question what to do with her. But then the side of my brain that doesn't include rationality and logic was overtaken by the compassionate side and I just felt she deserved a chance after all she has clearly been through. I just desperately hope we can make her better and, even more importantly, find her a new home.

Thankfully the pictures above, taken on Catherine's mobile, spare you from seeing just how bad she really is - as if they weren't bad enough!

It also looks like there maybe kennel cough developing in the ranks, so all in all not the best week on the dog front.
Thankfully it is far more promising on the cat and small furries front and I'm really hopeful we will be able to admit new cats soon, if we get some reserves this weekend. There are still plenty many waiting to come in, so please keep everything crossed.

Until next time........

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

I can honestly say this week has been tough going. Driving home on Thursday marked the end of possibly the worst day in a long week. I had one of the Deputy Shop Managers with me and both of us were close to tears.

Steph had had a day of people blatantly taking the 'mick'. Shoplifter after shoplifter, and customer after customer asking for money off the ridiculously cheap shop prices. It gets you down that people will steal from, and barter with, a charity shop but that really is how it is. So, understandably she was upset and frustrated.

Few people understand quite how hard charity shop staff work to 'process' donations and raise the money they do for the charities they represent, and in our case, because everyone knows every penny counts they take it personally when someone behaves despicably.

For me, I had had a day of abuse, no actually a whole week of it, and all because we cannot meet peoples' expectations and say 'no' to them. On many occasions my inability to help resulted in me being called (amongst other things) 'racist', 'dirty bitch', 'useless', 'shit', 'whore' get the picture. But two calls in particular have remained with me; one a gentleman who wanted us to collect his dog and have it put to sleep, the other I refused to rehome animal to.

Amongst the things our branch is able to do is to help people financially with things like euthanasia, but what we can't do is offer a taxi service to transport pets. The latter seens to cause no end of anger from callers and this week one of these calls has stuck with me.

I really wish that people better understood that we don't have unlimited resources. Crumbs, I would love nothing more than to help every animal in need but the reality is we can't. At our branch we have just one van, which is in constant use each and every day. But that in itself is not sufficient for all the jobs that need doing so staff use their own cars to run animals around, collect shop donations and run any other errands needed by the branch. Whilst we get recompensed for the petrol the branch cannot afford to help with vehicle running costs, but no-one minds, and they do it all out of sheer kindness.

I think what really upsets me is that each and everyone of us goes that extra mile every single day, and if we say 'no' it's not from being a jobsworth or being sheer bloody minded, it's because we really can't help. In fact, even the Chief Inspector said to me this week that she and her team know that if we have to say no to animal they know it is genuinely because we cannot help. That means a lot to me, because it is awful saying no but at least there is understanding and appreciation of the situation from internally.

Back to the call. I remain haunted by the image of a dog whose owner had left him for nearly 24 hours, unable to move and screaming in pain whenever he tried to move. The caller got very angry when I explained we could not collect his dog but that he was eligible to use the RSPCA vets. This just simply wasn't good enough for him and he hung up, but not before telling me what he thought of me. Had that caller stayed on the line longer I would have talked to him further about other assistance, as I did with a similar call on Monday where the owner had also rung for her dog to be collected but we reached an agreement and she got a lift to the nearest vets and we paid £80 to have her beloved dog euthanized.

I just hope that man took his dog to the vets and that dog isn't languishing somewhere in sufferable pain.

I see and hear so frequently so many people who are all too keen to pass off their responsibilities on to others; asking for help is very different and I have no problem with that. But the amount of times people are abusive and emotionally blackmailing on the phone is awful and this week it has really taken its toll. We simply cannot say yes to everything and I just wish people would have some understanding towards this fact and realise that they have to take responsibility for their actions.

The other call of the week that has resonated with me was one where I was accused of accusing the caller of animal cruelty because I refused to rehome an animal to her because she wanted to install a device in her garden to stop the animal roaming. I had never heard of this particular brand and asked the caller to explain. The upshot was that it was what the RSPCA calls an 'aversive' training device and something that we are deeply concerned about and do not condone. So this is what I told the caller and you can imagine pretty much how the call went from there.

Afterwards I researched more about this product and it did not do as she perceived it did and let out a vibration if the animal went too near the fencing, in fact the website was very evasive as to what it actually did but it certainly didn't emit a vibration to the collar around the animal's neck. From what I can tell about this particular style of product, it either lets out a 'high pitched noise' (inaudible to humans) but in some products it also gives out a further warning of a 'low static correction shock'.

Now some of you, perhaps this lady included, may not think a high pitched beep is all that harmful to an animal, but the truth is negative training techniques are neither kind nor have the long term desired effect of suitably training the animal. But, still troubled by this call, and the unpleasantness that ensued as a result of me saying 'no', I contacted our 'science' department for further guidance, and I'm so glad I did because it turns out that the Welsh Assembly has banned the use of this kind of fencing in Wales and has passed the Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) (Wales) Regulations 2010. Apparently DEFRA is also looking into these products, and hopefully they will reach the same conclusion as the Welsh Assembly.

So, to all the people who have told me this week that either I or the RSPCA are 'shit', I apologise for causing you such anger. I really wish I could meet every one's expectations but sometimes it just isn't possible, or even desirable.

Happy Valentine's Day to your furries - aren't animals amazing.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


This week has been positive. We have achieved a lot in a short amount of time, opened our hearts and doors to quite few new animals and moreover one of the inspectors won a very distressing case.

You may have read about it in the papers, about a dog whose owner failed to seek veterinary attention for their dog who was in so much pain that he couldn't open his mouth without screaming. Amongst the punishment dished out they received a 10 year ban on keeping animals, which meant their cat could not remain with them and so they agreed to sign her over to the RSPCA.

We took her in this week and I can't tell you how pleased we are to have her because she too was in a very bad way. At this point I have to be careful what I say, but needless to say it will cost a good £200 to get her back to full health, assuming that we can, poor love. I guess her and her dog companion's plight can't help but make you wonder just how many other animals are out there suffering in silence, needlessly.

I was disturbed to the core this week when the news reported the outcome of an investigation regarding a toddler who died in front of a gas fire in Baguley. Like it or not the similarities are there - a defenseless being at the mercy of adults, suffered for no good reason.
Whilst I was really pleased about the sentencing of the animal owners, many around me were dismayed, and rightly so I suppose, because in reality who is going to 'police' a 10 year ban on keeping animals? And the £200 court costs they were fined are nothing compared to the costs that will have been incurred in helping both the animals and seeing justice take place. But I guess for many of us it is because justice has been sought and found that the result is satisfying, or maybe more accurately, satisfactory. But, as always, I can't help but find myself wondering just how many more animals and children are out there, undetected.

This week has seen an even greater rise in cats needing to come in. I don't really know what is going on but currently on our waiting boarding we have 19 cats that need to come in - we only have 11 spaces! Obviously this does not include the ones where I say 'no' or ones that we will have to take in (for a variety of reasons). I feel quite panicked about it all if I'm honest, largely because I'm fearful that we will slow down on cat adoptions again because we have a whole host black and black and white cats - the least popular colours and always the longest to find homes. In fact, thinking about it, we exclusively have these colours in the cattery now because Billy and Hattie were reserved on Friday!

I suppose you could argue that it's a kind of racism? It's exactly the same for the bunnies; albinos and black bunnies take months to rehome and some years ago, because of the this phenomenon, all 5 of my house bunnies were black/white because they never found homes,. so they came home with me....
.....oh, the days of only 5 bunnies are long gone, my house is just a giant warren these days (and all the better for it, I say!).

We also said 'hello' to Mikey this week. He is a lovely collie x, approx 18 months old, whose owner went home to Romania leaving Mikey in the care of friends, but he never came back to England. The friends themselves returned to Romania and Mikey was left abandoned in the property they had rented. Despite all of this he is such a sweetheart and ever so good natured. After an absolute soaking from dog walking yesterday in torrential rain he had no problem being towelled down by a complete stranger. What a love. Oh, and he smiles; he is a real smiler! So, after his assessment we will get him up for adoption and hopefully he'll get snapped up, although, and this sounds terrible, he isn't a big 'looker', hopefully people will fall in love with his personality.

We had 3 dog viewings this week. One for 10 year old Yorkie Elmo, who is now reserved - hoorah! And two for Sid (pictured above) but each time no-one turned up. This has become such a frustrating phenomenon. We always urge people to let us know if they can't make it because if they don't it means we have to hang around on site and the dogs miss out on extra play/walks as a result. I don't know what more we can do to overcome it and I'm sure we aren't alone in experiencing this. Above all, I feel so sad for Sid because whilst he is unaware of it all, it is another week in kennels for him.

Sid really is adorable and I love him so much. He has such a wonderful character and spends every Wednesday afternoon in my office. As soon as he falls asleep he snores and trumps! When he is awake he talks to me and throws himself at me for cuddles; how can you not love him, really!

Well, let's hope Sid is third time lucky next week and gets another viewing........and adoption please!