Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Happy Tails Tuesday: Florrie & Archie

This week's 'Happy Tails Tuesday' features RSPCA rescue rabbits Florrie & Archie owned by volunteer Amy Martin.

I got Florrie 3 years ago from the RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch. Florrie is a beautiful mini lop.  I understand that she was found in a box with some other rabbits in Tatton Park on a very cold day. I saw her photo on the Manchester & Salford Branch website and fell in love with her. Florrie is content to be stretching out on the carpet and watching TV.

She is a house rabbit with a our back garden to freely hop about in. I noticed Florrie was lonely...she just had that look about her. So I got Archie who is a lovely white lion head cross from the branch. Archie was found in a house in Manchester with several other rabbits allowed to roam the streets and multiply at will. Archie is street smart and has bags of personality!  I thought Florrie would just love him! It was 2 weeks before Florrie stopped trying to attack him.

With very careful supervised time together after a month both rabbits were tolerating each other and after quite some time Archie and Florrie are the best of friends! I am always amazed and in awe at times over the personality a rabbit can show! Facial expressions and body language are all I have to go on but I can tell you that these are very intelligent animals with feelings and passions like humans.  I will always thank the branch for allowing me the privilege to have Archie and Florrie.

Happily bonded after patience and hardwork!

Next week will feature Zak the dog....

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Summer 2012 Newsletter

We are delighted to report that the first six months of 2012 have seen a huge upturn in our branch activity despite the prevailing nationwide financial difficulties. From 1st Jan to the end of June we have:

• Rehomed 183 animals, up 50 on same period last year

• Welfare neutered 44 animals, up 38 on same period last year

• Welfare microchipped 225 animals, up 111 on same period last year

• Provided welfare assistance to 205 animals, up 78 on same period last year

• We have admitted 247 animals (100.0% were categorised as RSPCA generated animals)

At the end of June the branch had 86 animals available for rehoming in its care of which:

- 74 animals (86%) had been in branch care for less than 3 months

- 2 animals (2%) for 3 - 6 months

- 10 animals (12%) for over 6 months (these were all rabbits)

Baby rabbits born into our care last month

Few other animal charities can boast of such achievements, especially in light of the fact that we do not own an animal centre. We are, of course incredibly proud of this activity but recognise that we simply cannot do it without the donations, legacies and shop income we so desperately rely on.


Local blogger, writer and branch trustee Dave Hartley reflects on Summer Fun & Fundraising

I write this during the first half of the not-so-glorious summer of 2012; half the country seems to be underwater and when the shy sun does decide to grace us with its presence we are all so busy expecting rain that we miss it. Maybe August will be better. But maybe not.

It’s a shame because the summertime has a great potential as a fundraising season; find a park, hire a bouncy castle, bake a few cakes and lay on some entertainment and the people will come in droves. At Manchester and Salford RSPCA, the annual dog show at the summer fair always pulls a big crowd, and is always big fun, but events like this are dictated by the Great British Inclement Weather. Last year, sadly, was a wash out. And there’s nothing worse than a soggie doggie.

So we resolved this year to think of new ways to fundraise, ways that avoid the downpour but still grab the right kind of attention, and the right kind of return. It has taken some feats of original thinking, and we are still keen for new ideas. Answers on a postcard, please!

One successful new event took place 101ft in the air on a windy (but thankfully not rainy) day in May. Thirty brave souls, including myself, threw ourselves off the top of Leasowe Lighthouse, supported only by the most terrifyingly thinnest of ropes. And yet, despite the fears, the event was a great success and we raised over £3k in sponsorship.
Next year we are upping the extreme sport stakes; a zipwire challenge over the Imperial War Museum at Salford Quays in an event that will celebrate our 50th anniversary as a registered charity. If you fancy taking up the challenge, and raising us some much-needed money, watch out for the call out soon.

Truth is, the people of Manchester love a good summer event, and some will even defy the rainclouds to get to one. But we must entice them all, and we can only do that with fresh, original fundraising ideas. It costs us around £30K a month to keep the branch going, and something as simple as rain can make a huge dent in the recuperation of that figure.

So we need you, people of Manchester, citizens of Salford. Had a lightbulb moment? A flash of inspiration? Don’t be afraid to get in touch; we’re a forward thinking lot over here, and not afraid of good challenge. Whatever the weather.


Trustee Sarah McConville shares her first-time experience of fostering a rabbit.

Claude teaching proper rabbit care!

“I was asked by Susie, our Branch Manager, to look after one of her foster rabbits (Claude) whilst she went on holiday and I excitedly accepted the challenge! I have probably only really learnt about how complex rabbits are in the last 2 years, mainly down to Susie, Hannah (our Chair) and my other rabbit-mad friends. Before that I knew very little and was probably like the majority of people in thinking that rabbits were just an ordinary pet! How wrong I was!

When Susie came to pick up Claude I told her that if people actually realised how much work and care goes in to properly looking after a rabbit most people would be shocked. Don't get me wrong, I can honestly say that I loved every minute of looking after Claude; from spending lots of time sitting on the floor just simply stroking him and watching him explore his surroundings, but you do spend a lot of time cleaning up after them!
Claude had a habit of waiting until I'd cleaned him out to then go and then use his litter tray straight after, and his aim was a little off so a lot of time was taken up putting fresh newspaper down and sweeping up, again! Claude also liked to "help" me when I was cleaning, sadly he actually just made things worse but it did make me love him a little bit more! Oh, and he would always try and climb in the hay bag and sit there happily looking like he was in heaven!

As he liked to explore I often had to point him in another direction, and being a slightly stubborn bunny he would always go straight back to where he shoudn't be! And usually somewhere that involved wires or electrical equipment!

One thing Susie had tasked me with doing was monitoring his water intake. So every morning I would keep a record of how much he had drunk through the day. Claude also had problems with his eyes, which meant they would get a little sticky and unpleasant for him, but he would always allow me to wipe them for him and often seemed to enjoy the fuss.

I think my favourite part of looking after him was watching him happily munching on his veg and then coming to join me for a snooze and cuddle on the couch! It was definitely a lot work but it was so rewarding that even when you've had a long day and the last thing you want to do is spend an hour cleaning you do it without grumbling! But I don't know how Susie looks after as many as she does!"

What Bugs a Bunny? Check out the national RSPCA’s campaign pages to learn more about these complex creatures: http://www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaigns/companion/rabbits


Following the success of our fundraising evening at The Worsley Court House last year we will be repeating the event on Saturday 13th October 2012.

It will be relaxed affair with a sumptuous 2 course veggie and vegan hot buffet, post dinner entertainment in the form of a cabaret duo and a live band so you can dance the night away and of course an auction and raffle to raise those extra pounds!

Tickets are on sale at £20 per person with £5 from each ticket going directly to the animals. If you would like to book your tickets then please get in touch with Susie.

If you are unable to attend but would like to support the event we are looking for small amounts of sponsorship (to cover costs) along with raffle and auction prizes.


Vintage Bazaar

Sun 29th July 12-4pm

A massive range of vintage goodies at sensible prices at a one off event at our Chorlton shop.
Free Microchipping

Sat 18th Aug 11-3pm

At the annual EST Donkey Sanctuary Fair in Abbey Hey. No cats please!

See our website for more info

Flixton Carnival

Saturday 1st Sept TBC

Free Microchipping and Teddy Tombola – please come along and support us!

Rabbit Awareness Week

15th – 22nd September

Check out our website for competitions and special offers for you and your rabbits!

Purrfect Party 2

Saturday 13th October

Fundraising evening at Worsley Court House for all the family.

Tickets £20 pp

Happy Tails Tuesday: Beau

This week's 'Happy Tails Tuesday' features RSPCA rescue cat Beau owned by volunteer Martha Byrne.

''It was February 2011 when I first saw Beau.

I’d seen a few kittens on the RSPCA Manchester and Salford and the RSPCA Stockport websites (and had wanted every single one) but I was sitting on the settee with my laptop when I saw a picture of this scrawny little black kitten with big ears, sat with his paws tucked underneath and a defiant expression on his face.

Immediately I felt this emotional pull. I started to read his write up...

Beau, or Axel as he was called back then, had been found with his three brothers and sisters on a frozen Christmas Eve in a garden shed. They were only three weeks old, were underweight and had cat flu.

All four were now in foster care, recovered and happy, but it transpired that Beau was profoundly deaf. That was it. I can’t explain it but his deafness sealed the deal, he had this vulnerability that I just wanted to look after him and snuggle him up and protect him. I resolved to adopt him.

Being 9pm, I had to wait until the next day to call, but that’s exactly what I did the next day on my lunch break. I called the RSPCA Manchester and Salford office and answered a few preliminarily questions about my house and lifestyle. There were no problems so I went to the next stage – viewing Beau at his foster home.

Two days later, it was a Saturday afternoon and we arrived at Ben’s (Beau’s foster carer) flat to meet Beau. I was so excited... and nervous. Maybe Beau wouldn’t like me? What if the foster carer thought I wasn’t good enough? We had grabbed some treats and toys to take to them all. Beau’s siblings Rose, John and Yoko had already been reserved but were too little to go off to their new homes just yet, so they were still there.

We greeted Ben and he welcomed us in. All four kittens were tearing about the place, being hyper. I sat on the floor and John walked on my knees immediately. Rose and Yoko were rolling around the floor play fighting. Beau was investigating the treats then he mooched over, nonchalantly.

He was gorgeous. Absolutely handsome. He had big dark liquid eyes and the big ears I’d noticed on his picture. He was a confident little thing too, completely unfazed by the fact that these strangers were picking him up. I cuddled him and he put his paws on my shoulders and licked my hair.

He was defiantly my new baby.

We stayed for half and hour, playing with Beau and his brothers and sisters. We’d told Ben we really wanted to adopt Beau and he sorted our home visit out with the branch for two days later. We excitedly did a trolley dash buying goodies on our way home.

Soon it was Monday. I’d booked the day off work to clean the house (what a loser) and was anxious again, walking around the house critically. We already had Mogwai, my boyfriend’s 4 year old beautiful girl cat. She was instructed to be on her best behaviour later...

The home visitor arrived just before 5pm. She was lovely and had a quick look round the house. I took her upstairs to see Mogwai, who was in her usual spot on the bed. She didn’t budge an inch.

We chatted about types of kitten food, the litter spot, flea and worming products etc. I’d imagined her running her hand over surfaces with a white glove but it was nothing like that all. She told us there and then we had passed and I asked if we could pick Beau up that evening. She said to check if it was okay with Ben to go round but if it was okay with him then it was okay with her!

I text Ben. He said come round! We grabbed Beau’s new carrier and went to get him! I was so happy and excited bringing him home. I couldn’t wait to get him in and let him start exploring.

He was quiet the whole way home. I talked to him, even though he is deaf, I still do as I think he knows.

We got home, opened the carrier and he climbed out and walked straight over to the fishtank and stood on his back legs against the glass. I was snapping away taking pictures, and he pottered from room to room. He galloped upstairs (his balance is totally unaffected by his deafness) and met Mogwai. She hissed and Beau paid NO attention to her grumpiness.

Later that night we went to bed and Beau was clearly shattered from his big day, and I was chuffed to bits when he went to sleep on my pillow. He knows who his Mummy is te he! Mogwai was in a huff and moved from her usual spot at the bottom of the bed in protest (that didn’t last). I did a half day at work the next day and he was next to the fishtank when I came home. This would be his favourite spot.

It’s been 16 months since I got Beau. My personal situation has changed in that I have moved back to my family home in November 2011 with Beau.

This has meant that Beau is now living with me, my Mum, our two geriatric family cats, Bertie and Freddie, and a 5 year old rescue dog Mollie. Bert and Fred are both 15 and basically blobs who lie on our beds all day, avoiding doing anything more strenuous than eating and rolling over for tummy scratches. Mollie is a mixed bred, maybe part schnauzer rescue dog, who adores Beau and eggs him on doing naughty stuff. They are really so cute together, it makes me chuckle to hear them thundering up and down the stairs, small footsteps followed by large footsteps!

Beau is very active and LOVES to play. But he’s also crazily affectionate, and loves to be picked up for a cuddle or jump on my tummy and pad away making a bed. He has the cutest little meow that he does whenever I come home that means “pick me up and cuddle me” and he pads my cheek whenever I am asleep and he wants attention. He still sleeps on my pillow every night which I love.

Getting Beau was the best thing I ever did. He is my perfect, beautiful, gorgeous baby boy.

We have a house full of four rescue animals and it is fabulous and I would not have it any other way.''

Next week the story of Archie & Florrie the rabbits....

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Journey of a life time

This week the national RSPCA issued a press release about the continuing problem we are having with abandoned animals. It's a tale we know all too well. One of the cases featured in the article really upset me: a rabbit abandoned in a box with a broken back. The suffering that animal went through is unimaginable.

The article stated that the Midlands was particularly troubled with this problem but I can honestly tell you that Greater Manchester is no different. This year we've taken in cat after kitten after cat that has been abandoned here, there and everywhere. We've just learnt of a case of 20 domestic rabbits abandoned in grassland near Bolton (we've regrettably only managed to take in 2 and that's only because of a kind foster carer).

And when I think I've heard all the crazy stories I could, one comes along and bowls me over. This week it was two adorable black and white kittens that were posted through the shutters of a fish and chip shop 'to get rid'. Why, just why would you even think to do that? We've inevitably called them Fish and Chips and apparently they'd been eating the fish in the shop and really stunk of fish when the officer collected them - which rightly or wrongly makes me smile. They are doing well in foster care and will hopefully be up for adoption in the next week. But seriously? Posting kittens?

The closure of the cattery to cat flu has really caused us headaches. We have foster carers doubled up with cats and the office being used daily for pit stops,but it looks like we've got a good couple of weeks before we'll be clear of it. All the while the numbers being rescued is not abating. There is nowhere for cats to go at this present time and I know local animal shelters are full too. I really don't think I have ever known a summer so bad before and the theory is that the recession, or whatever you want to call it, is only just kicking in for the general populace now.
Location of the 20 rabbits abandonment

I'm trying hard not to take it all on board but I get waves of worry that send me reeling, like with 20 rabbits abandoned in Bolton. I tell you, the feeling of impotence runs so high and I just wish we could do more, but then I remind myself that we are close to double over capacity and that's without the benefit of our own animal shelter.

Collie cross pups growing fast!
It has, however, been a week of highlights. We've had lots of fantastic updates on the collie cross puppies - all of whom are clearly well loved and growing up to be smashing companions. They were all such fantastic natured puppies and so it's an absolute pleasure to hear how well loved they are by their adopters.

Another highlight  was an email about brother and sister, Johnny and Betty, pictured above. I did their home visit last December. They'd been with us a while, largely because pairs of adult cats are much harder to home (like our Earl and Enzo who have had absolutely no interested in them). Betty was quite an aloof character but Johnny incredibly affectionate. So, it was to my utter delight, that the email shared stories of Jenny having transformed into an affectionate, playful and loving cat. That's what I love so much about rescue animals, the reward of taking them in and watching them blossom over time is just immeasurable.

I have been experiencing the same with two foster rabbits Grace and Claude (I bore everyone about Claude so I won't go on this time!). Grace started out as a petrified, flighty and fearful rabbit and now, after 4 months, she begs for attention and food. She goes flat for a fuss and has quite the cheeky streak in her. The day she first took food out of my hand felt like I had won the jackpot. It had taken 3 months for her to develop that trust and since then our relationship has gone from strength to strength. The joy of achieving such progress is just the best feeling. Giving a rescue animal the opportunity to grow in confidence, strength and character to be who they want to be is by far the best experience in the world - you ask anyone who has ever taken in a rescued animal.

But finding Grace a home will prove difficult. I suspect she won't be easily paired with a mate, due to her past experiences, and there just aren't many homes for a single house bun. It's such a shame but she's not alone, we've got others who also are proving impossible to rehome all because of the ill treatment they've received from humans.

But whenever we have a dark day and despair at the world at large, along comes another email update that sets your heart singing once more.

Zak was adopted from us over a year ago. He was a firm favourite for his good looks, loving nature and liveliness. But he was also the sort of dog that could potentially prove to be a handful once settled in a home with his paws firmly under the table!

But Zak has taken his 'parents' on a journey of discovery and development that they would not have missed for the world. He has made their lives complete and brought them so much love and joy ('joy' really is the best way to describe that feeling).

What I love about this photo of Zak is that it encapsulates everything I mean about enabling a rescue animal to 'grow in confidence, strength and character to be who they want to be'. Despite not having lever door handles in their home, Zak mastered opening them at his 'grandparent's' home in no time.

Now take a good look at his cheeky face - doesn't it speak volumes? That look is why each and everyone of the team does what they do, whether they are voluntary or paid, it's the reason we are all so passionate about rehabilitating and rehoming rescue animals.

All animals are amazing, but rescued ones are remarkable; their capacity to love, learn, trust, forgive and forget never ceases to astound me. Adopting a rescue animal means you take a journey of a life-time that brings rewards that you can cherish forever.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Happy Tails Tuesday: Pip

This week's 'Happy Tails Tuesday' features RSPCA rescue dog Pip owned by dog trainer Debby Smith www.perfectpawsmanchester.co.uk/

Pip (top & middle) was in rescue kennels for a long time and couldn't get a home due to aggression issues. Molly (bottom left) and me fostered and then adopted Pip 3 years ago. In that time, we have seen Pip transform from a nervous & aggressive dog to a confident, trusting and happy little man. He adores his Molly and his favourite hobbies are sticking his snout in Molly's ears, scrapping with Tiny (bottom right), playing Chief of Security on the window sill, and, making sure Mum doesn't have a love life. He loves nothing more than chasing his ball on the field and then being carried home when he's tired! He is a bundle of naughtiness and cuteness and we love him so much. He's my very very special little boy.

I know I'm scared and nervous and shy

You might just want to walk on by

But please look again, please talk to me

And see the boy I'd like to be

I've never had a life of fun

I've never had the chance to run

To chase my ball till I'm all puffed out

To learn that people don't always shout

I might not wag my tail at you

But look in my eyes, look closer too

There's life in them, and hope and joy

And I'd love to be your special boy

Next week Beau the kitten's story.....

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Happy Tails Tuesday: Tabitha & Douglas

This week's 'Happy Tails Tuesday' features RSPCA rescue rabbits Tabitha & Douglas owned by volunteer Ruth Coxon...

Basil (originally Bob) and Tabitha

Basil and his identical brother, Patrick, were rescued by RSPCA inspectors from cramped and neglectful conditions back in the summer of 2008. They were about 3 years old and were very close. From when I adopted them they had access to a large, secure garden to run and binky to their hearts content. Initially this was so alien to them, it took them months to really settle in. They had a very happy life together until January this year when poor Patrick was infected with e-cuniculi and died - Basil was devastated. I saw Tabitha on the RSPCA website having been rescued from an over populated situation where fighting with other buns was quite normal. I brought her home to see if they would fall in love, and she realised what an absolute sweetheart Basil is - they are now inseparable as the photo clearly shows!

Douglas (originally Morrissey)

Douglas’s mum was rescued by the RSPCA when she was heavily pregnant. She had a litter of 6 kits with Douglas being the 2nd largest. A little earlier in 2010, Heidi, my harlequin bun was bereaved and on her own. Now Heidi is not a bun to tolerate anyone or anything readily but Douglas was just too cute to resist with all that lion head fur and gorgeous expressions! Their mutual grooming and love of coriander & parsley have meant their relationship has gone from strength to strength.

Next week, Pip the dogs story....

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Runs through our veins

None of us enjoy returning to work after a fantastic holiday but alas it has to be done. Although, I suspect there are few folks out there that have to absorb the multitude of updates, confessions and problems that I do! The updates always carry on into the next day and get to the point where I think I'm loosing my mind cos I can't take any more! But with that said, it is somehow reassuring to be back amongst the chaos and juggling that comes with running our branch.

The  updates can be easily summarised:
  • We've had a rabbit explosion
  • Cat vet treatment costs have hit an all time high
  • We've had an excellent run on cat/kitten adoptions
  • And our much loved Kia dog was returned and rehomed in 4 days
Five new arrivals became 12 in a matter of minutes after admission.
The break was a welcome opportunity to (almost) switch off, but it isn't long before the realisation dawns that animals are your passion, vocation and obsession. I find myself coo-ing at every dog I see, or scathing at inappropriate owner behaviour, or, as I found myself one day, scrutinising the actions of an owner attempting some kind of 'alpha roll' on a puppy. 

As our Debs heads off for a week holiday (leaving us a third down, again) I'm under orders to keep her posted on the progress of our beautiful dog Lucy, who is currently at the vets quite poorly. Debs also confessed to feeling guilty about leaving China (the dog) for a week because of the strong bond they share. 

Catherine, on the other hand, has decided we are both part-timers! But she'll be getting her 'revenge' soon with her own holiday time. But she too is just as engaged and potty about our furries and particularly worries like crazy about our animals too. 

Thanks to food and hydrotherapy Paddy has weight gained 5kgs and gone up for adoption!

It just seems that animal welfare runs through our veins. And you know what? I don't think we'd have it any other way. 

Catherine and I are looking forward to a week ahead of more chasing our tails, long days and worrying about some of our poorly animals like Rory, Lucy, William and Ted. Holidays are great but animals are better!