One of the hardest aspects of our work is saying goodbye to animals. It is true that we are frequently picking up the pieces and trying to ‘undo’ the damage that has been done. Regardless of whether you can justify it, or rationalise it, it does sometimes feel like you’ve failed, and when it feels like that it is wounding. In tends to be just 4 of us who take home the animals who we may not be able to reverse their health problems or when we know we will never be able to rehome them. Sometimes the animals can be with us for a few short weeks, whilst the longest was two years. We avoid at all costs giving an animal, with a poor prognosis, to a foster carer because we want to spare them the heartbreak of the loss. Sadly, this isn’t always avoidable, and we unintentionally put our volunteer foster carers through heartbreak. In the last few weeks we have unexpectedly lost two cats that were in volunteer’s homes that we never even dreamt would not have a happy ending.
Frank was one of those cats. He was rescued by an RSPCA inspector in November last year. His owner had failed to seek medical attention for a massive facial and oral swelling that was causing Frank pain. A case was being put together to prosecute the owner but they disappeared so the case could not be pursued. We all felt like they had ‘got away with it’.
We have since spent the last 7 months doing all we could to resolve Frank’s multiple health issues with the most fantastic veterinary support and the commitment of his foster carer. Frank was lovingly cared for by his doting foster mum and it would be fair to say that they were best friends. Sadly, over the course of the last 5 weeks Frank’s health dramatically deteriorated, despite regular trips to the vets and hospitalisation. We just could not get him better again and he was now suffering. Breaking the terrible news to his carer was hard enough, but even worse was that they could not say goodbye to one another due the restrictions in place with the pandemic. It was not kind to Frank to bring him home for a goodbye, as he was so unwell. His foster carer could not go inside the veterinary practice to say her goodbyes, as this is not currently permitted. My love and gratitude goes out to Frank’s carer and all the other foster carers who put their heart and soul into looking after RSPCA-rescued animals, not ever really knowing what they are letting themselves in for. When we opened the centre 11 months ago one of the early decisions I made was to always be up front with volunteers about the prognosis of an animal. They know when I say ‘don’t get attached’ that we may be in for a difficult time. And whenever a volunteer says: “I don’t know how you do your job”, I always turn around and say ‘yes you do, you are doing it too’.
Cage our ratties from the previous blog were abandoned in….
The week, thankfully, brought some light relief, like the reminders of pre-lock down life with staff excitedly sharing with me (or maybe teasing me) pictures of them enjoying McDonald’s fries again! However, as much as I also enjoyed two large fries it was the return of our rabbit and guinea pig drop-ins that I appreciated so much. It was so great to be back helping animals and their owners with claw clipping and health checks, and to talk to different people! But it was also being back at Salford Pets at Home with the store colleagues, who feel very much part of our family, that brought equal amounts of joy; it really felt like a semblance of normality had crept in! In total we saw 20 rabbits and 6 guinea pigs! The appointment system worked really well so we can now schedule 6 weekly sessions again. Hooray!
The fun times continued with the Home Pet Show. Two of us chose the winners of each heat. Thankfully we are really good friends and think alike, or else there could have been fisty cuffs! Sadly none of our winners made it to the national finals but they were all winners to us and will soon have some goodies making their way to them in the post! Thank you to everyone who took part and helped to raise over £200!
On the admissions front it was extremely busy again with 25 new arrivals: 10 rabbits, 9 cats/kittens, 5 mice, 3 rats and 2 guinea pigs. For the first time since 23rd March we had to declare we were full and could not take any more animals. Thankfully we had some animals ready for adoption so we are beginning to free up some spaces again. We have been overwhelmed with public support each time we’ve released animals for rehoming. It has absolutely taken our breath away and we are so incredibly grateful to everyone who expresses an interest in offering a home to an animal in our care. We even had one offer of a home all the way in Shetland! Although, believe it or not, that actually isn’t the furthest location we’ve ever had.
It is tremendously hard work at the moment with the volume of animals we are caring for. We have absent colleagues due to shielding, taking accrued annual leave and sadly, now, redundancy. Our retail staff team remains furloughed and the future of charity shopping so uncertain. So what do we do when times are tough? Dig deep, carry on and try to giggle wherever we can. So to raise a smile we are taking part in the Association of Cats and Dogs Homes UK-wide campaign #petorate. It will be launched this week and we can’t wait to see your creative displays! I can’t wait to do mine, I just need to be home when it isn’t raining and there’s daylight. Please join in the fun, there are prizes to be won! Check out the event page here.