Saturday, June 12, 2010

Re-homing widget

If you click the "get widget" button, you can share the widget on facebook, myspace etc. If you have accounts on any of these, please share it, so that our most recent pics of animals looking for homes are shown as widely as possible. Thank you in anticipation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Screening prospective adopters

There's a lot of argument about how far rescue organisations should go in screening potential animal adopters. On the one hand, it's possible that good homes might be lost if the procedure drives away prospective adopters who feel it's too intrusive or if the criteria are too rigid. On the other there are a few people who are not "abusive" but who simply will not go along with reasonable safety instructions (such as keeping a new cat indoors for long enough to ensure bonding to a new house, or not letting dogs out in the street alone).

Arguably anyone who is rejected can always go out and purchase an animal, so that being excessively fussy about adopters simply denies homes to animals in need without actually saving any from incompetent owners. I'm not sure this is entirely valid, because owners who couldn't cope with a large adult dog in need of training might well not have any difficulties if they purchased a puppy belonging to a small, docile breed. If they're not capable of understanding that an adult shelter dog won't be bonded to them initially and almost certainly will run off and get lost if they simply let him out in an unfenced garden or off the lead in a public area they may be perfectly fine with a pup who more obviously needs constant attention.

Some animal rescuers may not have ideal personalities to front rehoming drives if they love animals but can't get along with people, or if they're unwilling to accept that adopters may have differing views about some aspects of caring for animals. These are the kind of people who are so obsessed with pet overpopulation and the need for neutering that they absolutely will not rehome a spayed bitch to a home with a resident dog who hasn't been castrated, or who won't believe an adopter might be telling the truth when she says she's arranged a dog-sitter to call in while she's out at work. These same people may well be the ones who are prepared to put in 80 hour weeks for the rescue and it can be very difficult and traumatic to get them to take more of a back seat with rehoming, especially if they genuinely believe that altered policies are going to result in animals they've devotedly cared for being hurt or even killed.

I think we need to discuss what is or isn't reasonable to expect of adopters. It ought to be reasonable to expect them to be normal, good, animal-loving pet owners. It probably isn't reasonable or sensible to insist that they love animals as much as those of us who've re-arranged our lives to a frankly bonkers extent in order to care for them. So, it probably is reasonable to insist that adopters should keep up vaccinations and either insure their pets or be in a position to register for treatment via the RSPCA, PDSA or Blue Cross. It isn't reasonable to insist that they should be willing to spend all their savings on veterinary treatment.

If you think a rescue organisation has unreasonable adoption policies and want to get them changed, please do a bit of research before you start.
  • Are the policies actually being set by the organisation's governing body, or is a single individual being unreasonable or excessively rigid?
  • Do you know for sure that lots of adopters are being rejected for no good reason, or are the complaints from isolated people?
  • Does the organisation actually have suitable animals available? It may be that adopters are being turned away simply because they want a particular type (e.g. poodle) and the rescue doesn't have any.
  • If you volunteer your help to improve the rate of adopting, is it accepted?
If you just dive in and start a public campaign to force the organisation to change its policies you may be doing harm by discouraging adopters and you will certainly put everyone in the organisation on the defensive. If you are wrong and the organisation isn't being unreasonable about the people it screens out, you will have diverted effort that should have been spent helping animals into countering your campaign.

The PEDIGREE Adoption Drive website includes a neat "Dog Adoption Tool" which encourages potential adopters to think through what kind of dog would fit their lifestyle.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cheering news all round

Still short of cash but animal related things are looking up a bit. The rottie who was vomiting blood stayed in overnight on a drip and hopefully will be fit enough to go home tomorrow. Being a sizeable adult she's got much more reserves to draw on than a tiny puppy would. 

Her owner spontaneously phoned to thank us for our help and to make arrangements to pay us back, so I'll forgive him for being a royal pain for much of the morning texting me at work to find out how she was. The branch contact phone is my own mobile and while I'm at work I switch it over to our chairman who works from home so isn't disturbing other people if she takes RSPCA-related phone calls. Unfortunately this only works for voice calls, not texts, so I still get the occasional  RSPCA client whose finances are in such a state that he doesn't have enough credit on his phone to make voice calls. It's quite difficult for people to understand that the branch is run by volunteers who have their own livings to make and that we're not actually inside the veterinary hospital, so we can't give updates on animals by popping down and taking a look at them and we don't have time for hugely involved conversations.

From a personal point of view, the other major good news is that Fern's biopsy results came through today and her thyroid tumour isn't malignant. She's still got a combination of problems which will mean she'll have to be on medication for the rest of her life, but anything more drastic seems to be out at least for the moment.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Poorly rottie

Absolutely fantastic, but exhausting, flat clearance, which we finally completed at 10pm today. I just hope I am as mentally alert at 90 as the gentleman who previously owned it, as he obviously kept up his varied interests right up to the point where he went into hospital with his final illness. His collection of books and DVDs will keep both the Cambridge shops well-stocked for several months at least.

Much less welcome was a series of increasingly frantic phone calls from the owner of a rottie bitch registered at our clinic and suddenly very ill with vomiting and diarrhoea containing blood. He lives about half an hour's drive from Cambridge and doesn't have a car or any money. The lack of money was fairly moot given that no taxi firm is likely to be happy to transport a large vomiting dog. Getting a vet out to him on a Sunday would have been astronomically expensive, and probably not a solution as the dog was ill enough to need inpatient treatment which would be even more astronomically expensive done privately.

Finally organised the Pet Taxi to drive the dog to our emergency care provider on the promise that the owner will pay us back by installments. 

I do wish potential pet owners with no funds would consider the charms of the Jack Russell! At least they are portable and the majority have cast iron stomachs capable of digesting the most horrible things.

So, enormous gratitude to the family whose generosity gave us so much stock to raise the funds we so badly need today.

Another injured stray

Royston Vet Centre have just phoned to let me know that an injured stray cat was taken in to them last night on an RSPCA National Control Centre log number. He's got a broken leg and jaw, but they think the injuries are at least several days old as he's coping well and eating ravenously in spite of the jaw injury.

They scanned him for a chip and found one, but it looks as though the owner may have moved and not updated the record as there's been no response to any of the landline, mobile or email contact registered in the PetLog database. For the moment we'll have to treat him as an ordinary unowned stray and organise continuing care and fracture repair via our clinic. The Royston vets have kindly volunteered to contact other local vets in their area in case he's been transferred to another practice or possibly rehomed to another owner.

If your pets are chipped, please remember that it's essential to update your details if you move or change your mobile or email providers. If you're going on holiday for a significant length of time and leaving the cat to be fed by neighbours make sure you remain contactable in an emergency.