Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Wow Factor

What a week and a half! There is so much to share this week that I'd almost forgotten about Sarah and Hannah's Manchester 10k triumph. They ran the course in just 1 hour and 12mins and raised £800 in the process. What a phenomenal amount. With two other people running for us too, well over £1000 has been raised for our animals at the event. This is such welcome news and may hopefully help us to balance the books this month (I shouldn't speak too soon, should I!).

Trying to find a steady stream of income is so difficult for all charities but one thing we've been determined to do for the last year is open a third charity shop. This is not as simple as it sounds, and we've been on the hunt for some while. Our dream area has long been Didsbury but the rents are simply too high and therefore too risky for us to take a gamble on. But a little miracle has happened this week and we have found a perfect little shop just off the main route through the village and we've negotiated a deal. We are all incredibly excited about this and can't wait to sign the lease and get trading! Hopefully we will be up and running by mid to end July and making some more money to secure our future for the furries. We will keep you posted on progress - I can't wait!

It has been a distinctly dog-themed week this week with 3 new arrivals. We've admitted a 12 month old Great Dane (we've never had one before and I'm so excited about her arrival), an akita x and a beautiful English Bull Dog. The last two have been cruelly abandoned. We think both had outlived their purpose as breeders and the poor Bull dog has a horrible skin complaint that's going to take weeks for us to get better too. We also have another Bull Dog and two whippets waiting to come in but with us only having 6 kennels, which are fully occupied, it's going to be a while before they can come in.

Currently we only have Bruno (pictured) available for adoption and whilst he's only been listed for a few days I am very disappointed we haven't had any interest in him because he is just so gorgeous and adorable and cuddly! The staff think it's because people won't find him as attractive as others, which makes me very sad because it's the black rabbit and black cat scenario all over again - no-one ever wants them, either.

We've also been on tenterhooks this week with our favourite cat Bilbo. I can't begin to explain why so many of us love Bilbo other than he is a tatty old cloth cat, just like Bagpuss. He has been through one hell of an ordeal - found in the most manky state with a ruptured eye, cauliflower ear, polyps and all sorts. He's now a one eyed tug-boat that is greedy and cheeky and will do anything for a bit of 'wet' cat food (see picture of him rummaging in the bin!). But his balance hasn't been great, again, and we knew it was likely related to the polyp problem down his cauliflower ear.

I had to make the decision as to what to do next, which was not easy because Bilbo is not your typical 'desirable' cat. In fact he's been up for adoption for some weeks with no offer a home. He's cost around £500 in veterinary treatment so far too. But with his personality being such as it is, and so many people being so attached to him, it makes it near impossible to make a rational decision (like I should do). But I got given a 'get out' card by our wonderful vet who said he would perform the op Bilbo needed at cost price. I can't tell you the relief that gave me.

Whilst Bilbo is not out of the woods yet, but what I can tell you is that by the very next day he was up to his naughty antics and endearing himself to all the vet nurses. It's going to be touch and go for a while to see whether Bilbo's op is successful, but in the meantime he is on cage rest at the vets and driving everyone to distraction - go Bilbo!

This week has also seen the first of our two Rabbit and Guinea Pig Roadshows. (We are also doing a third with the Wigan branch on Thursday, which we are really looking forward to.) We've been running the roadshows for some years now and typically see between 80-100 animals per event, but oddly, this time only 63 animals attended. Despite doing more publicity than ever before we can only put the poor attendance down to good weather (well it has been raining lots recently) and lots of other similar events taking place around the same time for Rabbit Awareness Week. I'll be honest, I feel really deflated after the yesterday's event and just hoping that our last one on Sat 28th in Eccles sees a better attendance because it then feels all the more worthwhile and you can justify the expenditure.

But the highlights of yesterday were undoubtedly seeing lots of old furry friends and their human companions but even more special was seeing people we've met at previous roadshows explaining how they had taken on board advice previously received from us and made their animals lives so much better as a result. This factor really did make it all the more worthwhile for us all and so I'm going to remain ever hopeful for a good turn out next weekend so we can help improve the welfare of even more small furries.

As I finish writing this blog our intrepid volunteer Clare Goss will be arriving in Las Vegas any time now. In the next couple of days Clare will be undertaking a sky dive over the Hoover Dam to raise money for our branch. What an amazingly stupidly brave thing to do! I can't wait to hear all about it and show you the pictures but for now, please keep everything crossed for Clare.

If you want to read more about Clare's motivation for doing this please go to

Clare's dog Ben was with us over a year, waiting for a home, much because he didn't have the visual 'wow-factor' like our Bruno. Just sad, so very very sad.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Ernie, Eric and Jessica

You may remember these kittens from a few weeks ago. They were found abandoned with their umbilical chords still attached. Well, they have miraculously pulled through thanks to two-hourly, round the clock feeds by their extraordinarily dedicated foster mum.

The kitten are now approaching 6 weeks of age and will be available for adoption in another 3 weeks or so.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Russian Roulette

The excitement of having raised an astonishing £1048 during RSPCA week sadly didn't stay with us beyond Tuesday morning. It has been a rock bottom week this week and I'm just relieved that my first weekend off in weeks has landed on this one.

This week has seen us loose a rabbit, kitten and dog. Each desperately sad, in different ways, and add up to nothing short of me and Mel feeling miserable.

The phones have also been really challenging this week with so many calls that make you simply despair. Hannah came into help us out on Thursday and she described the office phone line like a game of 'Russian Roulette' - and it is such an apt description. You see you just never know when you are going to get shouted at and abused but what you do know is that it is going to happen.

We also know that each day will bring a call or three from members of the public who have allowed their animal to suffer. Some of these types of calls have really stuck in our minds this week and I can't, obviously, go into too much detail but you would be amazed at the number of people who leave their animals to suffer when they have a very clear need to see a vet. Typically people ring because they think we are the RSPCA vets that are based in Salford.

During the call you inadvertently learn how someone will have left their pet for days unable to walk, stand, eat and/or live comfortably. Invariably we feel this is down to apathy, ignorance and/or complacency. Some calls really do stay with you and at times you find yourself genuinely struggling to sleep easy knowing that such neglect has taken place and worse, could be continuing. I often say I wouldn't wish answering our phone line on anybody; it really is that vile at times.

And then the working week ended so perfectly with our AGM failing to be 'quorate'. In a nutshell what this means is that we didn't have enough members attend for us to meet charity rules to be able to operate for another year. It means I have to set up another AGM for the branch by the end of June if we are to continue. This is no small task and such a pain and couldn't have come at a worse time.

There have, of course been moments of light relief, namely in the form of animal adoptions and reserves. Perhaps my favourite being that of our wonderfully grumpy, fluffy, mop-head bunny Cuthbert who found himself a girlfriend and the pair of them fell for each other big style and are just giddy little kippers together!

There was also the moment when the most enormous, towering pallet of freebies arrived from Supreme Petfoods for our Rabbit Welfare events in 2 weeks time. It was like receiving the biggest and bestest Christmas present ever - we are still sorting through it all but can't wait to share the spoils at our events in Stretford, Wigan and Eccles.

And tomorrow Mel and I will be bellowing to our hearts content as we cheer on Hannah, Sarah, James and Michelle as they run the Manchester 10k for our branch. If you want to come and join us then head for White City at around 12noon and we'll be stood with our branch banner making lots of noise for these fantastic runners!

For now, I will leave you to enjoy pictures of a miracle. Above is pictured Archie. When he was adopted 14 months ago he was a trembling wreck that cowered under the table in our downstairs office. But his mum and dad were up for a challenge and were smitten by his sweet nature. Yet within 48 hours of taking him home Archie dramatically changed in character. It seemed he had just been severely missing his home comforts and settled right into his new home and found his confidence and became the Lion King he really was!

It was wonderful to receive the updates on him last year but to hear how he is getting on a year later was a magic moment for me. I hope you enjoy the pics as much as I do. Just shows what a bit of love can do.

Sunday, 8 May 2011


'Woo-hoo' stands for LOTS of things this week. So, many wonderful things have happened this week that my tiredness very nearly pales into insignificance. By the end of the day I'll have worked over 60 hours this week and that's with having the bank hol Mon off. I truly am feeling it but the highlights of the week makes it feel so much better!

SooZoo Doggy Fun Swim Fundraiser raised the phenomenal total of £568! That's about £200 more than I had thought. People were so unbelievably generous and I can't thank them all enough. Sue and Simon really worked so hard - I'm surprised they didn't look like prunes! But what a fantastic success and testament to how many dog lovers are out there - renews your faith, it really does.

So, on to more of the highlights of the week....
Our little black cat Kelly found the most wonderful new home this week. How is this so remarkable I hear you ask? Well, black cats are so hard to rehome. No-one wants them and they get overlooked in favour on multi-coloured cats and are often with us for months on end. But on this occasion Kelly was barely with us a month! She is darling little girl and I'm just so chuffed she has been snapped up by such wonderful people.

We have lots of bunnies on reserve, again. But again it is all dependent on bonding so I won't get too excited just yet, although it does feel good that we are getting so much interest in them. (I have some other exciting news on the bunny front, but I can't share it just yet, but let's just say they'll be more going up for adoption soon.)

On the dog front, in just 1 week, 4 out of 7 dogs have found new homes. (The remaining 3 haven't found homes simply because they aren't up for adoption.) There is a distinct trend developing with the dogs. More or less within a matter of hours of us listing a dog for adoption on the national RSPCA website they are being snapped up. It is truly incredible. I swear, Harry was booked for a viewing within 60 minutes, as was Zak and Kim too. I think it shows that we are doing something very right with our assessments and work with the dogs. I can confidently say that we do not have long stay dogs anymore. Haven't had for a year now. Just goes to show what you can achieve even with minimal resources and a big dollop of determination.... 'Dog team' you are brilliant.

And my last highlight of the week has to be our RSPCA Week collections. For those of you who don't know, every year we have a week to highlight the work of the RSPCA nationally and locally. Tesco very kindly allows branches to go into their local stores and collect money. This provides an enormous income generation opportunity with many branches raising thousands of pounds.

Our branch has never raised remotely that amount, largely because we struggle so much just to get enough volunteers to do a couple of days in one store (and we have about 5 or 6 Tescos in our catchment area). What it invariably means is that I do a lot of the collecting because the opportunity is too good to miss. But this year, I have been a lot more lucky with help, especially from our adopters, and as a result we have been able to collect in two stores, which is brilliant.

So far we have spent 10 hours in two stores, i.e. a total of 20 hours collecting, and we have raised the fantastic sum of £730!!!!! Today is the last day and I am really hoping we will reach £900. That maybe a little too optimistic but no harm in wishing! Pictured above are furry friends Molly and former resident Pip with our trustee Gilly above. These guys raised over £50 in 2 hours - great stuff guys, and thank you!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Splish, Splash, Splosh

I probably had one of the best days of the year yesterday. I spent a fun filled 9 hours watching lots of dogs participating in the Doggy Fun Swim Fundraiser. I went home so wet that I was squeelching in places I didn't think possible.

Today is the last day of the 3 day event and it looks like it is on course to raise around £400. We are truly grateful to Sue and Simon at SooZoo Canine Hydrotherapy Pool for such a spectacular fundraiser. I hope you enjoy the pictures!