The final part of our 2020 blog round up by our Branch Manager, Susie:
In the days running up to Christmas we admitted a number of rabbits that had been abandoned: two at a vet, one on a doorstep, 1 in a park, one in a cardboard box and one in a cage. All seemingly young rabbits – such a sad state of affairs.
However, on the eve of Christmas Eve we received an email from a lady offering a home for all 3 of our cats termed as ‘inbetweeners’ a description coined by International Cat Care. They are cats that are not wild but neither are they fully domesticated, so I like the term ‘inbetweener’ because it is such an apt description. The lady had recently lost her last ‘farm’ cat at 18 years of age, his brother the year before, and so she was well placed to care for our three girls. On Christmas Eve staff delivered them to their new, 50 acre home on the border of the Dales. The best Christmas present any of us could wish for and proof that miracles do happen.
2020 has given us some truly uplifting times, which I think it is fitting to share before the year draws to a close.
In April the devoted teenage bunny slave of the lovely Simba and Jasper pictured hit upon a genius idea to raise money for our bunnies by turning pet photos into cute emojis. Pictured is my dog Dag!
On 16th April DEFRA gave the go ahead for rescues to resume rehoming. We had dozens of homes lined up and managed a record rehoming figure in the branch’s history for the month!
In May we opened a Virtual Pub for one night to host a Pub Quiz. It was a barrel of laughs and gave us a real taste of the future of fundraising, as we got to grips with Zoom. The event raised a whopping £800!
In June a plucky young man by the name of George thought up a challenge to walk 150km in 30 days to raise money for our bunnies; an incredible feat given he was only 7 years old! He did this because his family adopted a house rabbit named Pickle from us in April. Pickle and George became best friends and so he wanted to show his appreciation to us for looking after Pickle until they could give him a forever home. George raised over £2k and received a surprise socially distanced welcome party at the finishing line in Media City, round the corner from our centre. In November Pickle got a girlfriend from us called Mazzy and the two are double trouble free-roaming house rabbits, and George is super happy to have two bunny best friends.
In June we also tried our first online pet show, with Humphrey the giant rabbit winning Best in Show. We received lots of entries and raised much needed funds for the centre.
In July we celebrated, albeit virtually, our animal centre’s first birthday. We had planned for a big party but instead we settled for something a little different….
In August the Wirral Branch kindly gifted us their old animal van, after they had upgraded. One of our two vans had been on its last legs for a while and this was a huge lifeline for us because the repair bills kept mounting up but we could not afford to replace it.
In August we were also treated to a celebration of Manchester Pride weekend by one of our creative volunteers who made a flag trail around the centre for the team to learn more about the LGBTQI+ community.
September saw the launch of the Badly Drawn Pets fundraiser. We received commissions from all over the world after it attracted a lot of press attention. In total £3,375 was raised thanks to staff and volunteers drawing peoples’ pets in return for a donation.
In October BBC North West Tonight filmed at the centre about the impact of lockdown on demand for kittens, increase in admission/cat population and financial impact of the pandemic. Needless to say lots of kitten cuddling was achieved and we featured on all their news bulletins for a whole weekend!
On 31st October our flagship charity shop in Chorlton was broken into in the early hours of the morning. A lot of damage was caused, items of value stolen and we could not trade for the day. In total it cost us in the region of £1k. We shared the news, just once, on our social media page, to let our supporters know what had happened. The next thing we knew over £3k had been donated. Let me tell you, this made us feel loved and valued, we were down but certainly not out!
November saw another lockdown, but thankfully, this time, we were able to continue rehoming provided we had no visitors on site and we dropped off the animals to adopters following a virtual meeting and home visit. To achieve the rehoming of 44 animals under such constraints gave us all such a huge sense of achievement.
In December there were several highlights including the launch of our online shop Chapter Six We had been dreaming of our own online platform for some years, and the pandemic gave us the chance to realise this ambition.
Our online Christmas market and raffle raised £740, which was wildly beyond my expectation.
Our Countdown to Christmas feature on social media that caught up with previous residents was a huge hit and many kind souls donated lots of items from our Amazon Wishlist. Many, many other people generously delivered goodies for the animals and donated money. It was so heartwarming to receive these items and messages of support at a time when the future looks so blurry.
Huge thanks has to go to the colleagues at Salford Pets at Home for supporting us throughout the year. Above all I value their friendship the most. When times have been tough we have always received a warm smile and an ear to bend! They’ve also enabled us to continue with our welfare clinics for rabbits and guinea pigs throughout the year and fundraised for us in most inventive ways.
Their sister organisation Support Adoption for Pets have been equally generous and kind hearted with donations of cat litter, damaged stock and emergency grant money. We truly feel blessed for the team’s support this year.
As I write it is 27th December 2020, so still time to squeeze a few more animal admissions in if we are needed. To date we have admitted an unbelievable 717 animals whilst 638 animals have been adopted. It is a record year for us, which is all the more remarkable against the backdrop of the global pandemic. If I was to choose my ultimate highlight of the year? It would be our team of staff and volunteers. They have tenacity, compassion and an amazing sense of humour; we have laughed so much this year despite everything. They are simply brilliant and I leave you with a selection of the team’s humour.