Friday, June 25, 2010

Ethan turns out to be Felix!

We took in a ginger cat a little while ago after he was hit by a car and suffered head injuries. When he was fit enough to go to a new home we posted his details in our rehoming gallery. To everyone's delight, his owners recognised his photo and he's now reunited with them.

This shows the benefits of advertising our animals online, and also that, if you've lost an animal, one important avenue to search is local shelters' lists of animals in need of homes. Obviously you should also contact them direct, but a picture is much more easily identified than a description in words.

Anyway, nice to have a happy ending.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Rabbit open day final count

Over 200 people visited the rabbit open day  and the final total raised was £386.10.

This will be put towards supporting veterinary treatment and neutering of rabbits.

As an example of what this amount can achieve, it could:

  • Fund 386 subsidised vaccinations at our clinic to protect rabbits against myxomatosis. 
  • Allow us to provide 50 veterinary consultations for rabbits at our clinic.
  • Neuter 20 male rabbits at private vets. 
  • Spay 10 female rabbits at private vets.
THANK YOU! to everyone who helped make the day such a success — particularly to Twigs and her partner Steve, but also to all the volunteers who baked cakes and to the local branch of dairycrest who donated cartons of milk and orange juice.

Some more pictures from the open day:
Peaches eating some hay

Hawthorn has climbed up a ramp onto the roof of his sleeping area to keep an eye on the visitors.

Masses of roses.

and more...

This shot gives some idea of the true size of the rabbits pens.

And here, with one of the rabbits to give a sense of scale. If you look very carefully you can see her eyes and nose are slightly scarred. This is because she had myxomatosis last year, but survived because she had been vaccinated so had a comparatively mild case of the disease. Without vaccination she would almost certainly have died.

Electric fencing to deter foxes (with unconcerned rabbit just below). The bungee is to stop the rabbits nipping through the fence with their powerful teeth when it is turned off during the daytime and they are let out. The current is not high enough to injure the fox, but just gives enough of a jolt to discourage them from climbing onto the pens and terrifying the rabbits. The pens are made from heavy-duty mesh which a predator would be unlikely to be able to tear.

Closeup of the electric strand. You can just see it running along the bungee.
 Mrs Tiggy-winkle, the bantam, helping to clean up any crumbs.
And more roses...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pictures from the rabbit open day yesterday

These rabbits are not up for rehoming—they are permanent residents of the garden which Twigs Way kindly opens in aid of animal welfare charities each year.

As you can see from the photos it is a fantastic educational opportunity for the children who visit (as well as lots of fun) because it shows them how much space and effort is needed to keep rabbits properly.

Even visitors who were knowledgeable about rabbits were quite surprised to see how much use they made of all the platforms and ramps inside the runs. Some of the rabbits in the pictures are actually hopping up to ledges at human eye level so that they can make contact with their visitors. The children were given suitable green foods, such as dandelions and milk thistle so they could feed the rabbits healthy treats.

Visualising big numbers

I think one of the reasons why people seem to find it hard to think rationally about the RSPCA is the sheer scale of the numbers.

The National Control Centre takes over a million calls every year.

The national RSPCA's income is just over a hundred million pounds in the same period.

That means roughly £100 is available to deal with each incident. That's just enough to spay a large-ish bitch at a fairly inexpensive vet, to keep her in boarding kennels for 20 days, or to cover the consultation fee for out of hours treatment at an emergency vet. Usually when a dog needs help urgently all three of those will be necessary.

If each call represented a request to take in an unwanted animal there is no way that could be done.

Similarly with donations; which are probably the most likely to take a hit from the "I will never give another penny to the RSPCA and I'll tell all my friends" brigade. The National Society organises door-to-door collections asking donors to set up direct debits. Proceeds from this are split 50/50 between them and the individual branches, meaning each branch gets roughly £12,000 each year—usually representing around 10% of a branch's total income. 

The total amount raised by the collections is just over four million pounds—a very large amount; comparatively small once it's been spread across 174 branches, but a 10% decrease in funding would be a very big blow to a branch.

If the door-to-door fund-raising took a serious hit we'd have to make cutbacks—probably increasing the charges for treatment at our clinic and stopping help for owners who find even our subsidised rates very difficult to afford.

Our clinic treats roughly 2,000 animals each year, which probably represents around 4,000 families in Cambridge and the surrounding area who have their pets registered with our clinic at any one time. That's something like 2% of the population, and losing the clinic would mean extra financial hardship for these local people. Many, possibly most, of them would stop getting routine preventive veterinary care for their pets and just hope for the best until something catastrophic happened.

To give some perspective on the amount of money available to run the RSPCA as a 24/7 service for all of England and Wales:

The proposed NHS efficiency savings in the forthcoming budget would run the whole of the RSPCA for ten thousand years (yes - that's the figure for the savings, not their actual budget).

The Cambridge University's income from former students' donations (relatively small change from their point of view) would run the RSPCA for five thousand years. It has six times as many staff as the RSPCA.

These figures are so big that at some point most people's eyes just glaze over, but without trying to grasp them there's no way to think sensibly about the big animal charities which are providing services to the animal population.

The RSPCA saves 95% of healthy or treatable cats taken in to its shelters. It would be a tragedy if that record was destroyed by people who aren't capable of running the proverbial whelk stall.