Saturday, October 4, 2008

Rescued: Life-changing Stories of Saving Animals from Disaster

Rescued is the story of the individuals and organisations who took part in the evacuation of pets and livestock in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

It may be a little over-sentimental for British tastes, but the practical "lessons learned" and sections on what individual pet owners can do in the way of preparation to give their animals the best possible chance of surviving an emergency situation are of real importance.

We're fortunate in this country that large-scale disasters like Katrina are very unlikely, and we're also lucky not to have rabies (so we can handle animals of unknown health status with a degree of confidence the Katrina rescuers didn't enjoy). That doesn't mean we can't learn from this very large-scale animal emergency — for example the importance of micro-chipping to enable pets to be reunited with their owners; the value of having pre-existing teams of trained volunteers for essential roles such as assessing emergency foster homes (and what went wrong for groups who weren't able to do these checks).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Just to get the weekend off to a good start...

Thirteen dogs signed over from an address in Newmarket. RSPCA West Suffolk have kindly offered to take the mother staffie bitch and her puppies as they have a suitable foster home where the pups will get proper socialisation rather than being in kennel conditions. We're taking four adult dogs (all friendly, young adult females) — a Belgian Shepherd, Husky cross, Rhodesian Ridgeback and an Akita.

If you might be interested in adopting any of these dogs, please email

Cat saga continues

The ACO's managed to find the tortie's owner, but it's now a probable neglect case as the owner was aware the cat was ill, but hadn't tried to get any treatment for her (in fact hadn't even tried any over the counter treatment to get rid of her fleas).

Lack of money is not an acceptable excuse for neglecting to seek treatment for a sick or injured animal. Anyone who is genuinely on a very low income can get help with the cost of treatment by contacting the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or the PDSA on 0800 731 2502 or the Blue Cross on 0300 123 9933

Anyone on means-tested state benefits in the Cambridge area can bring their animals to our clinic on Whitehill Road (next to the Abbey Swimming Pool).

Another stray cat

She's an elderly tortoiseshell and was collected by one of our ACOs from Milton road, Cambridge, after a caller reported that she'd been hanging around for several days and looked ill. She's been admitted to Cambridge Veterinary Group for assessment and treatment and at this stage it looks as though she's got heart failure and dehydration (plus loads of fleas!).

We always need more foster homes to provide more TLC for animals like this than is possible in boarding kennels. If you might be able to help, please email

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cocoa is back!

This is not another microchip success story, as she's returned under her own steam and I've no idea where she's been for the past two days or what she's been up to. I'm hugely relieved however as she's on medication for epilepsy and I was begining to fear that she'd gone off to die somewhere.

Cocoa's history illustrates why some perfectly responsible owners end up having to give up pets after trying everything they can to solve the problem. Her epilepsy means that her house-training is sometimes erratic — this was something her previous owners could deal with until they had small children and the resulting hygiene worries became too much.

We always need caring homes willing to take "imperfect" animals who either have ongoing medical problems or are simply getting on in life. Where we know a medical condition will need continuing treatment we can usually help with the cost of this. If you might be able to offer a home to an animal like this; or if you might be able to help with temporary foster care for a recovering animal, please email

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Working on it

Still trying to open a deposit account. Latest hurdle is that all the people listed as signatories for the current account need to prove who they are again by providing photo-identification and a recent utility bill showing their name and address. This in spite of the fact that the current account's been open since at least the 1950s and all the signatories have been on the account for the past three years.
Also working on the lease of 61 Burleigh street - the shop premises we hope to move into so we can expand our charity shop. Landlord is reluctant to accept that we're willing to pay either a premium or consider a rent rise, but not both (and certainly not in the current economic climate when they should think themselves lucky to have a potential tenant at all).

Animal Clinic figures for September

In September, our Animal Clinic treated 209 dogs, 129 cats, five rabbits and three miscellaneous other animals.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dog Flea Treatments and Cats again

Yet another owner with a £300+ bill from the emergency vet after treating her two cats with over the counter anti-flea "spot-on" insecticide intended for dogs. She's on income support, so we're helping with £100 towards the total and she's borrowed £200 from her family.

Never give a cat any kind of medication intended for another species except on specific advice from a vet. Because they are specialist carnivores, cats are much less able to detoxify chemicals than most other animals.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Living with a House Rabbit

Living with a House Rabbit is written by Linda Dykes and Helen Flack, respectively the former and current chairmen of the Rabbit Welfare Association, and is an excellent introduction to keeping rabbits as indoor domestic pets. It provides realistic advice about the amount of potential damage event the best-behaved rabbits are likely to do, and ways to "bunny-proof" your home to strike a successful balance between freedom for the rabbits and preservation of reasonable domestic standards.

When successful, house-rabbits probably have better quality of life than pet rabbits kept under any other system, but all too often owners either become disillusioned and give their pets up for rehoming, or they end up condemning them to long periods confined to indoor cages which are very little better than outdoor hutches. If everyone thinking of having a rabbit as an indoor pet read this book before acquiring a rabbit we would have fewer requests to rehome the relationship failures and more rabbits would have better-quality lives.

Just one example of the kind of inspired tip the authors include is the suggestion that solid plastic dog beds make splendid litter trays for rabbits (particularly older ones whose joints may be getting a little stiff). The raised back and sides help prevent hay and litter scattering around, while the low front is easy for the rabbit to step over.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Update on Fenella

Took Fenella to the clinic for a re-check yesterday and was delighted to find she's gained a kilo - up from 2.1 kg to 3.1 kg - which is probably now about the right weight for her general build and age. She's still got her third eyelids partially up and the vets think this is probably permanent and due to having had untreated cat flu when she was tiny, but we're trying a course of eye ointment to see if there's any improvement.

"RSPCA Inspected"

We're periodically criticised by animal rights groups who believe that we "approve" circuses and, as an animal circus is touring locally, it may be worth explaining once more that this is not the case. An adjudication by the Advertising Standards Authority explains:
"A leaflet, for Great British Circus, stated "THIS CIRCUS HAS BEEN RSPCA INSPECTED". The RSPCA complained that the leaflet misleadingly implied they had approved the circus.


Complaint upheld

Great British Circus (GBC) said their leaflet neither stated nor implied that the circus was 'approved' by the RSPCA. They said they had been visited by the RSPCA and submitted photocopies of two pages from their visitors' book and a copy of an RSPCA animal welfare assessment form to show that. GBC believed that, because they had granted access to the RSPCA in the past, it was fair to inform the public of that.

The ASA noted GBC had, in the past, granted permission for the RSPCA to visit their circus to check the way in which they looked after their animals. Nevertheless, we considered that the presentation of the leaflet, showing two circus performers giving a 'thumbs-up' beside the text "THIS CIRCUS HAS BEEN RSPCA INSPECTED", implied approval by the RSPCA of the circus and the use of animals as performers in the circus. We concluded that the claim was misleading and told them to delete it."
If you see a circus including animal acts which claims to have been "RSPCA inspected" in its advertising materials, it would be helpful to let our Headquarters have copies of any leaflets or posters with details of when and where the circus visited. The address to send them to is RSPCA, Wilberforce way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS

There is more information about the RSPCA's position on circus animals on the national website.