Saturday, August 21, 2010

Part of the "No-Kill Equation"

RSPCA Bury and Oldham have a mobile vet clinic that provides low-cost vaccinations, health checks, worming, flea treatment, and micro-chipping within the community, but there's been a furious debate on Facebook about whether people who can't afford the full cost of treatment should be allowed pets. 

Brent at KC Dog Blog in the US has an extended rebuttal of this kind of attitude:
As an animal welfare community, we have somehow gotten in our minds that we need to try to punish people for not altering their pets -- and consider them 'not worthy' of pet ownership if they don't. So instead of taking the time to educate, and to be part of the community and being people who want to help, we become the people trying to take their pets away.
And if the animal welfare continues to create a divide between itself and various communities, we will fail. As Donna notes in the post: "To decrease euthanasia rates and curb irresponsible ownership, we need proactive, cost effective solutions to embrace the human-animal bond, rather than tear it down."

Sometimes animals do have to be taken away from owners who can't or won't care for them properly even with support. Most low-income pet owners are not like that; they do love their pets and want to do the right thing. However if you really are short of cash the temptation is always to put your head in the sand and hope your cat won't get pregnant before you can save up the money to get her spayed, or that your puppy won't catch anything nasty if she's not vaccinated. If we simply decree that these people shouldn't have pets we're removing a huge number of homes where unwanted pets could go and creating more homeless pets from those they already own.

Animals are always going to be relatively cheap to acquire, because two cats, dogs or rabbits can produce more of themselves at little or no cost unless something goes terribly wrong medically (at which point it becomes hideously expensive, but it is TOO LATE to lecture the owners about their shortcomings). Attempt to ban ordinary, good owners from keeping animals and they will simply hope not to get caught.

Veterinary support (with some strings and a requirement that the owner does contribute something towards the cost) are an essential element of an effective strategy to end killing of unwanted animals in shelters. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Release locations needed for outdoor cats

Do you have a large garden or other land or stables where you would be prepared to have one or more outdoor cats? We periodically take in strays who have been living rough and are too shy of human beings to be easily placed in ordinary pet homes.

All cats would be blood-tested, neutered and vaccinated. You would need to have a building or shed where they could be confined for an initial settling-in period to avoid the risk that they would try to "home" back to their original location.

If you might be able to help in this way, please email

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How not to do a home-visit!

Ouch! (I should say at once that the facebook page discussed in the linked article does NOT belong to any RSPCA facility in Britain).

We do ask potential adopters for a letter from their landlord confirming that it's OK for them to have pets, but I hope we would go about it a little more tactfully than that and this is where training is key.

The Librarian has some very relevant wise words about why the staff and volunteers of any organisation should beware the temptation to bad-mouth their customers on social media. Animal rescue groups are no exception to this rule; animal adopters are our support base and we need to remember this even when we most feel: "the more I see of human beings, the more I like dogs."

Everyone who adopts an animal from our branch normally has a pre-adoption visit to check that their facilities are suitable for the pet they want and to try to ensure any snags are dealt with before they cause problems. (For example our home-visitors will give advice on whether the adopters' garden fence is able to contain the dog they've reserved.)

It's important that home-visitors don't get the idea that their job is to catch out people who are going to be cruel to animals; it can cause enormous difficulties if they take it upon themselves to do subsequent un-announced visits or otherwise give adopters the impression that they are being treated as suspects. Follow-up post-adoption visits should always be by pre-arrangement with the adopter — realistically what are they going to cover up as a result of having a few days notice?

The vast majority of people who come forward to adopt do it because they love animals and want to help and it does animal welfare no favours if we insult or patronise them because that means they'll be less likely to help us with other things, like fundraising, in the future. Some of them do need to be encouraged to accept that standards of pet care have moved on since they were children (we wouldn't home a single rabbit to live alone in a hutch, for example), and some need a gentle steer towards animals that are suitable for their circumstances (for example a large dog in a flat with no lift is going to be a big problem when he gets elderly and finds stairs difficult).

Home visitors are essentially a point of contact between the adopter and the branch, and post-homing visits should be an opportunity to solve any problems and ensure the placement is a success, not a threat that the animal will be taken away.

In reality our biggest problem is not abusive adopters, but lonely, needy ones who would ideally like to have their home visitor popping back every weekend to check the pet is OK and help with flea treatments, nail trimming etc.

We always need more volunteers to do home-visits, as it's important that the visit is done as soon as possible after an adopter has expressed interest. If you might be interested in training for this, please email

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Missing Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Chaos went missing from his home in Oxfordshire in March and his owners have been searching for him ever since. It's possible he might have been stolen and then dumped, so he could be virtually anywhere in the country. If you find a dog looking like him, please call 07769 185 413 / 07968 351 154 

We are rubbish at identifying pedigree cats!

Suzie — now
Suzie - just after he came in
"Suzie" was brought in to us because she was abandoned. She is in fact a neutered male (in our defence the initial mis-identification of his sex wasn't us; we are not completely incompetent).

We thought he was possibly a British Shorthair, but in fact he's a Selkirk Rex. The fact that he would originally have been purchased for quite a lot of money makes it even more peculiar that he would have been simply abandoned.

Still, lovely to see he's found a wonderful home, and at least now we know why his whiskers look so beaten up; they have a natural wave.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pip, Ben, Toby and Duffy all looking for homes


Although Pip and Ben look rather similar we've got no reason to think they are related. Toby is only 8 months old and was adopted from us by a family who were unexpectedly posted abroad and had to return him. Duffy is a GSD x Rottie cross and only a year old, but was passed between a number of people before ending up with us, so needs a home where she can be given TLC and consistent handling and training.

There's more detail about each of them on our rehoming gallery If you might be interested in adopting them, please email

The stockroom at our charity shop

Thank-you, everyone who donated last week. Donations included this cute, but rather large, beanie baby(!) and an extremely realistic life-sized Old-English Sheepdog soft toy.

Don't forget our volunteers' evening is this Thursday evening at the 61 Burleigh street shop from 7.30-9.30.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Donated to our second hand bookshop

Catalogue of books printed in the fifteenth century now in the British Museum
The photo doesn't give much idea of how big the actual thing is—there are multiple volumes and each is huge. They're actually brownish rather than green, but I took the picture under fluorescent light and the colour of the photo is a bit odd.

Many thanks to the donor (who must have had quite a job getting it to the shop!).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cats everywhere!

This year's been particularly bad for unwanted cats, partly because our funds are so low that we have to think very hard before taking any extra animals into our kennels and partly because it looks as though more owners are procrastinating about getting female kittens neutered until it's too late.

We need to recruit more foster carers so that we can avoid putting kittens into a cattery environment where they miss out on the important social learning they would get in a home environment. 

If you might be interested in fostering for us, please email 

We will cover expenses such as food, litter etc.

Slideshare presentation on volunteer recruitment and retention

From Adopt a Pet in the StatesVolunteering
Not quite what you'll find in most RSPCA branches because the majority of these are directly run by their management committee members, who are all volunteers themselves. However there are lots of tips we could use.