Friday, February 20, 2009

Trapping and neutering feral cats

I noticed that the RSPCA policy on feral cats doesn't appear in searches because it's in a PDF document, so maybe it would be of interest to post it here.
The policy says:
"The RSPCA recommends that, where the welfare of feral cats is ensured and their presence is accepted by the owners of the site, the animals should be humanely trapped whereafter veterinary advice should be sought regarding their health status and attempts should be made to rehome very young kittens or other cats which are not totally feral. Euthanasia should be carried out on those cats which in the opinion of the veterinary surgeon are seriously ill or which are injured to the extent that returning to the site would result in continuing suffering and the remaining cats should be neutered. While under anaesthetic for such neutering, the left ear of the cat should be "tipped" to enable the cat to be easily recognised as having been neutered and the neutered and identified cats should be returned to the site and any further suitable advice given.

The treatment against fleas and round and tape worms of all cats selected for rehoming or for neutering as above is considered necessary.
"Tipping" means the removal of 6 mm, by a straight cut, of the tip of the ear.

The RSPCA recommends that, where the welfare of feral cats cannot be ensured or their presence is not accepted by the owners of the site, the contact should be told of the RSPCA policy given above and be given the opportunity to reconsider. If this fails to resolve the problem, or where the presence of feral cats cannot be permitted because of legal reasons, the RSPCA recommends that all cats are humanely trapped, treated and neutered, then rehomed or re-sited wherever possible, or humanely euthanased.

The RSPCA cannot guarantee that animals trapped by pest control firms will be destroyed in accordance with methods approved by the RSPCA."
We need more volunteers who would be willing to help with trapping and neutering cats. You would need to have the use of a car and to be fairly physically fit as the traps are quite large. If you might be interested in helping, please email
We don't get huge numbers of requests to trap and release feral cats, more a recurring trickle, but it is quite time-consuming, because several journeys are usually needed for each cat trapped.

Cats Protection will also help with neutering feral cats if they can. Click here to see their policy.

Rabbits Campaign

Make Mine Chocolate!™ now have posters to download. Please support them by printing out a poster and displaying it in the run-up to Easter to discourage the giving of rabbits as pets.

If anyone thinks their claim that thousands of rabbits die from neglect each year is an exaggeration, remember:
  • Pet rabbits die because their owners don't know they need to be vaccinated. Every year our group euthanases dying rabbits whose owners didn't vaccinate against myxomatosis in order to save them further suffering. Multiply that by the number of RSPCA branches in this country and the result is over a thousand from that cause alone.
  • Pet rabbits die because their owners don't know how to feed them correctly. Rabbits must have a diet predominantly based on large quantities of grass (not lawn-clippings!), hay or dried grass. Without correct feeding they are liable to painful tooth and gut problems.
  • Pet rabbits die because their owners don't know to treat them against parasites. Regular vet visits are an essential.
  • Pet rabbits die because they are kept in restricted conditions where they cannot exercise.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rehoming Gallery

Just to flag up that we've now switched our rehoming pictures entirely over to the blogger format, which looks nicer and is probably easier for most people to read. You should be able to use the labels on the right to select particular classes of animals to view—for example clicking the "cats" label will show just cats available for adoption. We're still experimenting with tags, so any comments on what you find most helpful would be appreciated.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On BBC 1 TODAY — Thursday

Puppy Farming (Follow link to view the program on the BBC iPlayer)

19 Feb 2009 20:00 on BBC One (except Scotland)
25 Feb 2009 19:30 on BBC One (Scotland only)
Matt Allwright and Dan Penteado are hunting and confronting more rogues. They investigate pet shops and dog breeders who sell sick puppies. The Rogue Traders team go undercover to buy three puppies from establishments which have been reported to the RSPCA or trading standards. One of the puppies cost 350 pounds and was bought as a pedigree King Charles spaniel. But within a few days it falls ill with Parvo virus, a severe intestinal infection, and has to be put down.
Matt and the team reveal that in many cases, the paperwork is inadequate to prove a puppy's pedigree, or that it has been properly vaccinated. One of the dogs purchased by the Rogue Traders team had a docked tail, a procedure which was made illegal in England, Scotland and Wales in 2007.
When Matt confronts one puppy farm, the breeder attempts to hold the team captive. It takes a visit by the police to get them released.

Online puppy scam

Not in fact an animal welfare problem (these are fictitious pups), but worth flagging up because the scammers seem to be targeting legitimate animal welfare organisations and trying to get them to advertise the puppies as pets needing good homes. Anyone who responds to the adverts is asked to send money in advance to pay for transport expenses (which is how the scammers make their money). Being featured on a trusted organisation's website is a way to catch people who know enough to be suspicious of unsolicited emails or adverts on obviously commercial sites.

Nigerian pet scam
How it works: Scammers either run online classified ads or create breeder Web sites offering purebred puppies -- typically English bulldogs or Yorkshire terriers -- either free or at a discounted price.

The story can vary as to why the animal is free or discounted -- the current owner is a missionary who needs to find the puppy a new home due to the terrible weather in its current location; the animal was rescued from a natural disaster and needs a good home, etc.

The scammer will then ask interested buyers to pay for the dog's shipment, down payment, inoculations and any number of other miscellaneous fees. The victims wire money for the dogs but generally only get excuses for the delay. Instead, they're repeatedly asked for more money to cover additional "fees" invented by the scammer.
Never buy a puppy over the Internet "sight unseen". A reputable breeder will want to meet you in person to check that you are a suitable person to care for their precious puppy.

Still time to register for a place on the home-visitor's training day

If you are interested in training as a branch home-visitor, there are still some places available for the training day on Sunday 1st March. Please email if you would like to come.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Missing dog

Jacob's owners have asked us to publicise him on our website:

Orange & White Bracco Italiano 3 Year Old Male Missing from CB11 Area

Missing while on a walk in the Littlebury Green, Saffron Walden, Essex area

on Wednesday 21st January 2009


07828 671550

Buying a puppy

Monday, February 16, 2009

Owners who genuinely can't afford a vet's fees

The vetnurse has a post about a dog who was probably dumped because the owner didn't take him to a vet in time and then got frightened to take him because by that time his tumour looked so dreadful (warning - graphic photos). 

There is help out there BUT:
  • You need to be realistic that charities probably won't be able to fund very expensive treatment and euthanasia to prevent more suffering may be the only option.
  • It may be quite difficult to locate a source of help — particularly for someone who is elderly or confused.

The PDSA (People's Dispensary for Sick Animals) operates in all of the UK and offers long-term help for owners on housing benefit or council tax benefit. There is quite a complicated registration procedure and it's designed to allow pet owners who know they would have problems paying for treatment to register for help before something happens. The PDSA uses a mix of its own clinics and help via private vets. They can be contacted by phoning 0800 731 2502.

The Blue Cross accepts a wider range of state benefits (or proof of very low income) and most of its help is provided via private vets, although it also has some clinics of its own in Grimsby and London.  The Blue Cross can be contacted by phoning 0300 123 9933.

The RSPCA accepts  means tested state benefits as proof of eligibility. It's more geared towards dealing with sudden emergency situations than the other two, although it's possible to register pets for long-term help where a clinic or hospital exists. Where help is provided at private vets it's generally expected that this will be a one-off to resolve an immediate welfare problem. All RSPCA branches are expected to provide at least the cost of a standard veterinary consult fee and either pain relief or euthanasia in an emergency situation where an owner is on benefits/pension as part of their Minimum Animal Welfare Standards. All of England and Wales is covered, but not Scotland or Ulster.

If your local RSPCA has a clinic or animal hospital this will be listed in Yellow Pages under "Animal Welfare". Unfortunately if the branch does not have a clinic and relies on providing help via private vets, it may not be easy to contact the person who is responsible for running the assistance scheme. They may have a number listed in Yellow Pages, but generally the best way to find the current number is to contact the National Control Centre on 0300 1234 999 and follow the voice menu prompts. This may defeat an elderly or confused person.

Most vets will be in day to day contact with welfare charities, and they will not mind being asked for advice on getting help, although they won't be happy to be expected to give a discount on their services — they have bills to pay at the end of the day too. If they do offer a discount or allow payment in instalments it is important that they are thanked for it. 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thank You!

Many thanks to the kind person who donated an upright piano for sale at our charity shop in Cambridge. It sold for £500 last week — enough to fund all our animal welfare services locally for two days.

Yet another collar wound

Another cat with a collar injury. Her owner contacted us wanting her rehomed because she'd returned after being missing for some time and in the meanwhile the owner had got a dog and no longer had space for a cat as well. I suspect this wasn't the whole story as she'd taken the cat for first aid at one of the Huntingdon vets, and they would have warned her the wound would need stitching under anaesthetic.

Huntingdon is outside our branch area so we referred her to Block Fen who have their own on-site vet for animals admitted for rehoming.