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