Sunday, June 30, 2013

What can you do to help?

If you are not a member of the RSPCA, do consider joining.

RSPCA members are eligible to vote to elect the committees who run local branches and in the election of the national RSPCA's governing council. They can attend local and national Annual General Meetings and speak and propose resolutions. 

Also consider whether you would have time to join the committee of your local branch. Most branches have a need for extra people and would welcome your help. New committee members can be elected at the branch AGM (they need to have been RSPCA members for at least 3 months at the time the AGM is held) or they can be co-opted by the existing elected committee members during the year. Co-option is often used as a way to give potential new committee members some experience before they decide whether to take the step of standing for election.

Virtually everyone has useful skills that they could bring to the task of running a branch, but please don't go in on the basis that all the existing people are useless idiots and you are going to put them right and save the animals from them. 

First, it probably isn't true and you will be wasting everyone's time and putting people's backs up. 

Secondly, even if there are many things about the branch which are less efficient than they could be, the point isn't to swap your blind spots for those of the current people—the aim should be to improve without creating a state of constant upheaval where nothing ever gets finished.

Most branches need a combination of people with specific "technical" skills, such as animal behaviour, legal, management,  or finance skills and people willing to get involved with organising fundraising events and practical animal care. You may not think you have any special skills to offer, but one of the most urgent needs is for people willing to organise quite small scale events (such as one sponsored dog walk each year) to build up a calendar of regular fundraising.

There's nearly always a need for volunteers able to foster dogs, particularly the larger breeds. Kennel environments are not good for dogs on a long term basis and many dogs behave quite differently in the frightening, noisy atmosphere than in quiet domestic surroundings. There's an ongoing initiative to get more of the "case dogs" (dogs who are the subject of a current prosecution) into foster homes for the period before their case comes to court so that these dogs no longer have to stay in kennels for protracted periods before they can be offered for rehoming.

One of the key qualities that is required by fosterers is the ability to hand the animal back. This is particularly key for case animals where there is the possibility that we lose the case and the animal has to be returned to the owner.

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