Night­mare af­ter Christmas

RSPCA STAFF SAY PEO­PLE STILL GIVE AN­I­MALS AS GIFTS - DE­SPITE YEARS OF AD­VICE TO THE CON­TRARY

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By SAF­FRON OT­TER

THE day af­ter Christmas and there’ll be some house­holds re­al­is­ing that a dog or any other pet - isn’t just for Christmas. Susie Hughes, 46, who man­ages the RSPCA Manch­ester & Sal­ford branch, which ends up tak­ing in pets that have been res­cued, said: “The is­sue I have is im­pulse buys”.

“Even af­ter all th­ese years of say­ing that you shouldn’t give a pet as a present, we still get peo­ple ring­ing up say­ing they want to get a fam­ily mem­ber a pet as a Christmas present.

“We have to ex­plain that they all have to be in­volved in the process; in meet­ing the an­i­mal, the home visit; we have to make sure they are in agree­ment.

“We don’t do re-hom­ing as sur­prises.”

A lot of RSPCA’s an­i­mal wel­fare work is car­ried out through branches, which are sep­a­rately reg­is­tered char­i­ties across Eng­land and Wales, and are there­fore self-fund­ing and raise money lo­cally to sup­port the work they do.

The cen­tre cur­rently has 103 an­i­mals in its care, made up of rab­bits, cats, kit­tens, guinea pigs, ham­sters, rats, and rep­tiles.

Over the course of 2019, more than 500 an­i­mals have been ad­mit­ted.

In 2018, RSPCA branches, of which there are more than 300, re­homed over 31,000 an­i­mals.

More than 102, 900 an­i­mals were res­cued over the course of last year and more than 130,700 cru­elty complaints were in­ves­ti­gated - se­cur­ing 1,678 con­vic­tions.

Susie, who has been at the branch for 11 years, hav­ing first started out as a vol­un­teer, said: “I have no prej­u­dices about peo­ple go­ing to pur­chase, or adopt, be­cause you can’t nec­es­sar­ily get what you want from adop­tion, and I think that’s re­ally im­por­tant; as long as you go to a rep­utable breeder, then that’s fine.

“For me, it’s about mak­ing sure you do your re­search; that the type of an­i­mal you are choos­ing is ac­tu­ally go­ing to match your life­style, or the in­tended per­son’s life­style.

“Places like an an­i­mal cen­tre are re­ally well placed to give you the best ad­vice as to what is right for your home.

“Of­ten young chil­dren want some­thing to han­dle, well, rab­bits re­ally aren’t great at be­ing han­dled for lots of rea­sons; they’re ground dwellers, they like to be on the floor.

“One swift kick of a rab­bit’s back leg and they can frac­ture their spine, and then they be­come paral­ysed. “So a child who is not nec­es­sar­ily con­fi­dent or as big as an adult would maybe hurt the rab­bit.

“We’ll rec­om­mend things like rats, be­cause rats are re­ally ro­bust, love be­ing han­dled, and great for chil­dren, so hav­ing a chat with peo­ple to un­der­stand what dif­fer­ent an­i­mals of­fer is a re­ally good idea”.

But Christmas aside, Susie said they are con­stantly busy all year round, and there is never a short­age of an­i­mals to adopt.

The branch has busy peaks in sum­mer time due to un­planned lit­ters, but they still have ‘kit­tens among kit­tens’ com­ing in through the door in De­cem­ber. The in­spec­torate mainly bring in an­i­mals that have been aban­doned

RSPCA man­ager Susie Hughes or are stray, but Susie said they can be in­ter­twined and it’s dif­fi­cult to tell.

With cats and their kit­tens, it’s of­ten when the owner is un­able to cope, which could be down to a num­ber of rea­sons; like fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, men­tal health or housing.

“Ul­ti­mately, they are all an­i­mals that need a new start in life”, said Susie.

The branch of­ten come across large vol­umes of an­i­mals - in one in­stance, 25 rats were liv­ing to­gether in a home.

All but one got sick, leav­ing Sewer the Rat as the only sur­vivor, who is cur­rently look­ing for a for­ever home.

“Peo­ple find it quite baf­fling but much of the time, things have just got out of hand and the own­ers don’t in­tend to cause harm”, Susie said.

“Some­times they be­come too em­bar­rassed to ask for help.

“We do come across cases of quite up­set­ting ne­glect; an­i­mals where peo­ple have moved out of a prop­erty

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