We have really felt the pressure this week. Demand to take in animals has absolutely rocketed and the feeling of impotence – when in one day more animals needed to come in than we have capacity for – hit an all time high (and I can tell you I went home that night feeling deeply demoralised).
There were lots of words of comfort, support and admiration, which always goes a long way to shoring us up. But when I read the RSPCA’s internal magazine People Matters last night I ended up feeling deeply insignificant, which I think is a really good leveller.
The magazine essentially celebrates the work we do at the RSPCA, whether it be at local, national or international level. Story after story highlights just how dedicated (and heroic) the staff and volunteers of the organisation are. It also shares stories about the animals we help. It was this particular aspect that made me so emotional for two reasons.
Firstly, the depth and breadth of animal abuse, neglect and suffering is just so unbelievably widespread. When people complain to me about the RSPCA I always have in the back of my mind just how lucky this country is to have a charity that voluntarily dedicates itself to alleviate animal suffering. The RSPCA is not a government organisation and is under no obligation to do any of the tasks it sets itself. I also genuinely believe that the RSPCA does its best, but like anyone or any organisation we can’t please everyone all of the time and we can’t get it ‘right’ all of the time; it’s what makes us human.
So many countries in this world don’t have so much as an animal sanctuary let alone animal welfare laws or even ‘policing’. It’s when you stop and think about the enormity of this that it makes you realise just how lucky we are in this country to be so progressive and forward thinking and to have the institution that is the RSPCA.
The second reason why I became so emotional was reading the individual stories of animals that had been rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed. The parallels with some of our recent charges made me really stop and think about what we do as a branch. Let me explain.
Some of our recent admissions have endured horrible ordeals like the ones I read about last night. We never dwell on this aspect and simply get on with doing what we do. I realise this is about self preservation, because we need to see beyond the ‘crime’ and channel our energies into loving and caring for the animals. But let me give you a brief run down of animal stories of late:
1. Jazz and Jago kittens abandoned in a sealed box in someone’s garden
2. Bonnie pup dumped in a litter bin
3. Jimmy dog approx 4 years old and kept crated all his life
4. Oscar dog badly beaten throughout his life with lumps and scars all over him and underweight
5. Benny dog left to starve and was half his weight when rescued
6. Mrs Fella cat violently assaulted with a pneumothorax and suspected broken ribs
7. Alfie cat kicked in the face, required reconstructive surgery
8. Bruce cat found stray with a flea infestation and completely shaved
9. Pebbles kitten dumped in a recycling bin
10. Banjo, Bongo and Bosco kittens dumped outside a pet shop with flea infestation and cat flu
Really, I could go on. These 10 represent less than 5% of the animals we have taken in to date this year. The stories never cease to amaze and it made me realise that even if we are limited with what we can do, it really is better than nothing. We really are doing our best with our available resources but I doubt any animal rescue charity ever feels they are doing ‘enough’.
What does spur me on, and makes us all feel hope, is when we meet so many wonderful adopters/potential adopters. Today is a classic example. A gentleman is coming all the way from Nottingham to meet our Cassie (pictured above). He had been looking for some time for a new dog and had something very specific in mind and it definitely wasn’t a staffie cross! But our write up just leaped out and grabbed him so he’s making (or rather has now made) the long journey to see her.
Another wonderful example was the Whittaker family. Dad rang up in the week asking what cats we had that would be suitable for his family home. We had the perfect pair of cheeky 5 month olds (Jazz and Jago). It turns out they lived just metres from their foster home and within 48 hours the furbabies were settled in their new home and updates were posted on our Facebook site! Incredible.
Now this is what makes it all so worthwhile; meeting and learning about the many passionate animal lovers out there. But I confess that this week I am all of a flap. There are just 3 weeks until our fundraiser, Purrfect Party, and we have many tickets left to sell. The anxiety about selling the tickets and making it a success has well and truly set in. It’s starting to really trouble me and if we can’t sell them we may end up making quite a loss, and I really don’t want this to happen.
The event should be so much fun and with £5 from every ticket going directly to the animals it means you can have a really good night out and feel good about it at the same time! Seriously though, £12.50 covers the catering and venue costs and all the artists have given their time for free. Where else can you get a 2 course meal with live entertainment for just £17.50? I know everyone is skint at the moment but I am so desperate to make this a success. If you haven’t bought a ticket yet it’s really easy to do – just get in touch.
The hard sell may be over but my anxiety will continue for the next 3 weeks!