Saturday, July 31, 2010

No-Kill Conference in Washington DC this weekend

The annual USA No-Kill Conference is running this weekend and you can follow it right now on the Pet Connection Blog or on Twitter via the #nokill hashtag.

From the point of view of someone in the UK one very major lesson is how incredibly fortunate we are to be working in a country where 14% pound euthanasia rates for dogs are regarded as something quite shocking instead of one where 30% rates are normal and much higher ones are not uncommon. It would be an absolute tragedy if all the hard work that got us where we are was simply thrown away as a result of combination of infighting, and ego-trips on the part of various people in the world of dogs.

It will be very interesting to compare the findings of the forthcoming Panorama program from Battersea Dogs Home.

Things we can learn:
Some rescue organisations have been successful in rehabilitating dogs seized during investigations of organised dog fighting - although I think there must remain questions about the possible risk to other dogs unless very highly competent, skilled and motivated adopters can be found.

The Internet and social networking can be very powerful tools for recruiting volunteers and spreading information. I'd say they can also be powerful forces for the spread of myths and disinformation: the amount of effort wasted on the "bonsai kitten" website is an example of the way effort can be diverted into "saving" fantasy animals and ignoring the real ones who need practical help right now.

Next Volunteers meeting

Our next volunteers meeting will be on Thursday 19th August at our shop, 61 Burleigh Street, Cambridge. Meetings are from 7.30 to 9.30 pm and are fairly informal, so don't feel you have to stay for the whole time. If you're coming by car, there's free parking after 7pm in the Adam and Eve car park close by.

We use the meetings as an opportunity to raise more funds as well as a chance for you to meet us and for us to meet you, and the shop will be open for shopping during the evening.

If you're interested in the work of the RSPCA but not particularly in charity shops, please still try to come. There are only eight committee members trying to run a branch covering a very large area and it is almost impossible for us to arrange individual meetings with all potential volunteers. Regular meetings make it possible for us to keep you up to speed with what's happening and are the only practical way  to organise fundraising events like our RSPCA week collections

It's just not possible for one committee member to drive round to every person to drop off a collecting tin and the only way we can make RSPCA week and other events work for animals is to have a central meeting point where everyone periodically gets together.

Our most immediate need is for more shop volunteers and volunteers to help collect donated items and transport them to the shops. 

We need to raise at least £120,000 each year to run an adequate animal welfare service locally.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our shops and our animal welfare work

Our 2nd hand bookshop at 188 Mill Road
Some of the comments from visitors to our shops over the weekend made me realise many people don't really know how our fundraising activities relate to what we do locally to help animals.

All the profits from our shops (after we've paid the rent, rates etc.) go to pay the costs of running our animal clinic, providing care for animals that we've had to take in and other work to help animals in the local region.

We need to raise this money because there is no government funding to pay for the work we do.

At the end of each day, the staff and volunteers count up the shop's takings and pay them into the branch bank account. This money is then available to pay bills, such as the charges for boarding animals in kennels before rehoming and from vets for treating injured and sick animals. Fees paid by clinic users are paid into the same bank account and go towards paying the University's charge for providing qualified vets to treat animals at the clinic. We pay roughly half their charges using money we've raised by fund-raising activities such as our shops, and the clinic fees pay the other half. Periodically they send me their bills and I make out cheques to pay them. These are then counter-signed by a second member of the branch committee and posted off to the vets and kennels. I enter up the amounts in a spreadsheet to keep a record of how much we've spent each month and how low our funds are getting.

Last month we spent:
  • £1,263 on boarding animals waiting to be rehomed
  • £1,702 on veterinary treatments at private vets
  • £13,786 on treatments at our clinic
Without the shops to pay part of the cost we would need to increase the clinic fees a lot and that would mean some of the very poorest pet owners probably couldn't afford to use it any more, so it is very important that they make enough profit to support the clinic.

The money we raise is also an essential lifeline for injured animals because it means that vets who have animals whose owner is unknown brought in to them can give at least some treatment rather than always putting them to sleep.

The money we raise isn't sent away to swell some "funds" elsewhere; it's used directly to provide help for animals locally.