Saturday, May 29, 2010

Garden Open Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th June

Many thanks to local author and garden designer Twigs Way for making us this year's charity beneficiary of her annual open garden event.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Get your May Ball gowns here!

Our shop at 61 Burleigh St. has lots of very attractive ball gowns and faux fur coats (good for those chilly June mornings!)

We'd also be glad to hear from any kind souls willing to donate gowns they no longer want.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why we help people with veterinary treatment costs

I'm sometimes asked why we spend money helping people with the cost of veterinary treatment; the implication being that we're really just enabling owners to have more money to spend on themselves. Frankly I sometimes feel that way myself when I have conversations with owners who can't manage appointments we've set up for them because they've got holidays booked (what are those? I seem to remember having one sometime in 1982).

Unfortunately the fact that owners ought to have put at least some money aside for emergencies doesn't help an animal who needs a vet now. Most of the people we deal with genuinely don't have £100 available to spend on a visit to the emergency vet late at night, let alone another £200 or so for actual treatment. At the moment this is quite likely to mean that an animal who's been hit by a car may have to wait to see a vet at our clinic the following day as the only alternative to being put to sleep by the emergency vet with no attempt at treatment.

If our clinic wasn't there, the only alternatives would be euthanasia that night or euthanasia the following day, depending on the goodwill and ethics of the closest private vets, which might well start to run dry if it was happening every day.

As well as this, we also have to consider that the RSPCA does eventually prosecute people who neglect their animals by not taking them for veterinary treatment when it's needed. This implies that the owner can access a vet within a reasonable timespan, and for some people the only way that's going to happen is if someone else stumps up the money. When we do that we try to get the owner to pay at least something; there may be more delay than we'd like, and we may not be able to fund more than palliative care or euthanasia. What isn't acceptable is if we do nothing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thoughts on work experience

We get lots of requests for work experience placements, and have to disappoint most of the callers because we don't really have anything suitable for people who want to work directly with animals. Most of our rehoming is either via private boarding kennels or foster homes and neither of these is suitable to meet the fairly stringent checks which are required by local authorities before placements can be approved. 

Our clinic is approved by the LEA, but doesn't really give a very satisfactory placement opportunity because work experience students can't have contact with the animals due to confidentiality requirements (because most of the animals have owners). This means they're limited to helping out at the reception desk, and the staff area there is tiny, so really they don't get do do much besides helping with filing and watching animals being booked in. If we had more than one person at a time, the area would burst!

I suppose it does give the placement students an opportunity to see an animal welfare clinic in action and get an idea just how pressured it all is.

The shops are really much more suited to giving placement students a genuine experience of the adult world of work (and possibly an understanding that most people's jobs are rather mundane for most of the time). I'm also happier that they're offering a more realistic view of employment, as I have real concerns about young people being encouraged to choose supposedly vocational courses because they love animals without any understanding that there may be very little chance of getting a job at the end of it.

Realistically, society needs a pool of people earning money in jobs that aren't particularly exciting in order to be able to afford animal carers (either for our own animals or ones in rescue).

I'm not sure the emphasis on students choosing jobs they're going to enjoy even does them many favours if they do get an animal care post because a lot of the work is still going to be repetitive, dirty, hard and poorly paid and they're going to need to learn perseverance to get through it.

Further thought: I suppose what bothers me most about some of this is that it's all about encouraging the kids to think you can cause things to happen by wanting rather than by setting your goals and working towards them. Fundamentally that's the root of a load of the problems we face here: there are tons of people who want to tell us what we ought to do, and very few who are willing to help us work to achieve it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New RSPCA shop in Newmarket

Just back from our branch committee meeting and hopefully we're on track for a replacement shop in Newmarket in a busier location than the old one.

View Larger Map
This streetview pic shows the entrance to Market street, where the shop is sited, although the actual building is further in on the pedestrianised section where the Streetview cameras couldn't go.

View Larger Map

This is the back area.

It could still fall through, though, as it all depends on a satisfactory second survey demonstrating that the various problems shown in our first survey have all now been dealt with. If there's still a problem with damp and possible rotting timbers we'd be mad to take on a lease that committed us to keeping the building in repair.

More kittens and two pet rats!

Thanks to our dedicated fosterers, we were able to help a caller whose new landlord wouldn't allow pets and another who had found a litter of kittens in her garage. 

The kittens should be ready to go to new homes in a couple of weeks as they were old enough to be running about. If you might be interested in adopting one or a pair, please email The mother cat is friendly, so once the kits are weaned, she will be spayed and up for adoption as well.

The increasing number of animals needing help makes it even more urgent that we raise more funds, so please keep on supporting our shops at 188 Mill Road and 61 Burleigh Street by shopping there and donating items for sale.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Staggering on

Spent most of yesterday steaming incoming donations at 61 Burleigh st (hence pic of steamer). The cylinder that looks a bit like a Henry vacuum cleaner body is actually filled with water and then heated by an electrical element like an ordinary kettle. Steam comes out of the nozzle at the top of the flexible tube and is run over clothes hanging on a rail to freshen them up and remove the creases.

By the end of the day we had two rails of clothes ready for the Monday team to price and put out in the shop, but the tub of incoming donations was starting to look lower than I'd like.
If you're having a wardrobe clear-out, please bear us in mind. Even if you think most of your purge isn't good enough for anyone to wear again we can still sell it for recycling and the same goes for shoes. We can also make use of things like bed linens, curtains etc.

If you are interested in volunteering I've now put up a downloadable copy of the shops volunteer form. We are required to ask for information about next of kin and medical conditions so that we would know what to do if a volunteer was taken ill while on duty at the shop. Just complete the form, bring it in to the shop at any of the times we're open and ask to have a word with the manager. Our greatest need is for people who can help on weekdays, but we can also use more people on Saturdays when the shop's very busy. Ideally we'd like to have one person on the till, one filling up spaces on the shop floor and one sorting incoming donations on every shift.

Anyone for My Little Pony?