Friday, September 19, 2008

Offer from Waterstones online bookshop

All online purchases made via our webshop or by clicking the link to Waterstones in the image above will earn commission for the branch.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reserve funds again

Trepidation about the general state of the economy. I think it's unlikely that there's any risk that the funds in our bank account could be lost however bad things get, but it's not looking good for our charity shop income if customers aren't spending because they're worried about the safety of their jobs. The CEO of the national RSPCA (as opposed to the local branches) must be feeling pretty glum about invested funds as those do go up and down in value along with the Stock Market (and in this case, down). 

We are extremely fortunate to have received legacy income this year and without it things would be looking very bleak indeed.

Things are already looking very serious for the Rabbit Residence Rescue where most of our branch rescue rabbits are fostered. Please consider sponsoring a rescue rabbit, or adopting a pair of rabbits who are suitable for rehoming (not all of the rabbits featured on the web page came to Rabbit Residence from the RSPCA).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rabbits Teeth!

Another request to our rehoming co-ordinator for us to take in a rabbit needing repeated dental treatment which the owner can't afford to pay for.

We get asked to do this almost every month and, sadly, it's most unlikely that we'll ever be in a position to do anything more than offer some help with the veterinary costs because there are always enormous numbers of unwanted rabbits needing homes and one who is going to need expensive treatment on a regular basis is just not going to be adoptable.

This is another situation where prevention is far better than cure. Some rabbits (particularly the very dwarf and lop-eared breeds) have inherited dental problems, but the majority of rabbit dental disease is due to incorrect diet.

Rabbits evolved to live mainly on grass, which is extremely abrasive. All of a rabbit's teeth grow continuously and if they are not subjected to constant wear they will become too long or misaligned and make it difficult for the rabbit to eat. Once a rabbit has tooth problems he may become reluctant to chew, thus setting up a vicious circle. Because of this it is crucial that the major part of any rabbit's diet is either grass or good quality hay (which is simply dried grass). 

The Rabbit Welfare Foundation has helpful leaflets on rabbit dental disease and on the proper diet for pet rabbits.

Because of the hereditary element any rabbit which suffers from dental problems should not be allowed to breed.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dog breeding

Bleary-eyed after being woken at 2.30 am by a caller needing emergency help because her little yorkie bitch was suffering whelping complications I am reflecting on the question of charity help for owners who are intentionally breeding animals. More specifically, I am very unhappy that this little creature was not spayed after experiencing exactly the same problems in her previous pregnancy. 

Widespread availability of options for low-cost neutering has thankfully made routine euthanasia of unwanted puppies and kittens almost entirely a thing of the past. Less cheerfully, it's meant that puppies and kittens have a monetary value, which is good for the individual pup or kit, but has implications for anyone running a charity clinic providing veterinary services. 

We do refuse to vaccinate litters of kittens or puppies if it's obvious that the owner is intending to sell them for financial gain, but we can't refuse treatment for an animal in distress. Pedigree dogs are in the news at the moment, so here's my two-penn'orth: I would like the Kennel Club to refuse registration to any puppies of a subsequent litter born to a mother who required veterinary treatment in order to survive her previous pregnancy. That wouldn't harm the puppies in any way, but would reduce their financial value and so decrease the incentive to continue breeding from unfit bitches. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Does anyone recognise this little cat?

She was brought to us as a stray on 7th September and is clearly very old indeed although she's quite bright and perky. We've put her on medication for hyperthyroidism as she's got very high levels of thyroid hormone and treated her ears for mites (which is why her face looks a little bedraggled in the photo). Otherwise there's nothing really wrong with her except old age, and she must have had a home to have survived so long.

Please email if you think she might be your cat.

Sunday evening panic

Modern surgical techniques make some absolutely remarkable repairs possible, even where the main bones of a limb have been broken in several places so that they effectively hang loose. For really bad cases, the vets will usually implant a "surgical fixator" - effectively a metal scaffolding bonded to the pieces of bone to hold them rigidly in position so that they can grow back together. The result looks fearsome, but seems to completely relieve the pain of the break. In the accompanying photo Tiger Lily demonstrates how unworried she is by the fixator holding her upper forelimb together.

The downside is the length of time needed for bone to grow back between the broken sections. This can take several months, and until the natural join is complete it's essential that the animal doesn't put sudden strain on the leg by jumping or falling and the fixator has to stay in place (it's removed by a second operation once X-rays show natural bone growth has filled in the gaps).

This means the animal has to be closely confined and only exercised under strict supervision and various sorts of cages have to be used, none of which are entirely satisfactory. The large plastic cages sold for indoor rabbit-keeping are easy to clean and free of snags on which the fixator can get hooked up, but they are rather hot in sunny weather. Fibre-glass or plastic indoor kennels and dog crates are preferable in many ways but the bars can be a problem - as one of our fosterers discovered on Sunday when his foster-cat managed to slip his fixator through the cage bars, and panic, turn sideways and get completely wedged. It then required two of us to release him, one to rotate the cat and the other to slide the fixator through the bars. Not entirely my idea of a fun Sunday night.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

East Regional Conference

The Regional Conference for all branches within the East and East Central areas will be at the Deafblind UK Conference Centre, Cygnet Park, Hampton on 4th October.

Any interested members, supporters or volunteers from the Cambridge branch are welcome to attend. Please email as soon as possible if you would like to come, so that we can let RHQ know the numbers for catering. Lunch will be provided and will be either vegetarian or vegan.

There is a very interesting program this year, including a talk by Mark Evans (Head of Companion Animals Department), whom you may have seen recently on TV in connection with the program about the problems of inbreeding of pedigree dogs.

  • 10.30 coffee
  • 11.00 Welcome by Chairman Bob Baylis, Regional Council Representative
  • 11.10 Regional overview - Suzie Graham, Regional Manager
  • 11.20 Awards
  • 12.05 Presentation by East Winch Wildlife Centre
  • 12.30 Open Forum
  • 13.00 Lunch
  • 14.00 Update on the Society - Nigel Yeo, Director Animal Welfare Services
  • 14.15 Urban Search and Rescue Dog Teams - Chris Pritchard (fire rescue service)
  • 15.00 Positives of the Animal Welfare Act - Inspectorate
  • 16.00 Chairman's closing summary

We hope for a good attendance as this is the one opportunity most branch volunteers get each year to meet up with their "opposite numbers" in neighbouring branches. Also, we have an ulterior motive: there is a prize of 60 free microchips for the branch with the largest number of attendees.

Map showing the location of the Deafblind UK Conference centre. The centre is in the region between the Serpentine and Fletton Parkway (click view larger map to zoom in to locate it). We will be meeting in the Bradbury Suite

View Larger Map

We need your old towels!

If you're throwing out any old towels and can get to our shop at 188 Mill Road reasonably easily, we'd be very grateful for any you can donate as our fosterers and volunteer drivers are currently getting through large quantities of old toweling which we use as temporary animal bedding. Towels are ideal as a soft lining for cat and dog carriers and as bedding for sick animals who may be more likely than usual to have little "accidents" because of difficulty in getting to the litter tray on time.