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Give an unwanted pet a home in Sussex
Animal shelters are “struggling to survive”, with the abandoned pet crisis the worst in living memory.
Hard-working volunteers are waking each morning to box loads of dumped animals as the economic climate continues to take its toll.
While kind hearted animal lovers continue to adopt when they can, shelters are receiving more unwanted pets than they could ever hope to re-home.
Last summer our Give a Pet a Home campaign was a huge success with hundreds of you answering our call for help.
However, we need your help once again.
That’s why today we officially relaunch our campaign.
We are calling on our readers to: l Head down to their nearest shelter when thinking of getting a new pet; lMake sure pets are neutered or spayed at the earliest opportunity to spare any unwanted accidents; l Think long and hard about whether you have the time, money, health and inclination to care for a pet for its whole life.
There is no consensus between animal rescue campaigners about why this summer is proving so difficult, but all have little doubt that they are facing an unprecedented crisis.
Billy Elliot, from Worthing and Adur District Animal Rescue Service (WADARS), said: “Re-homing always slows down at this time of year.
“People are thinking about going on their summer holidays so it isn’t at the forefront of their mind.
“However, unwanted and abandoned pets are still coming in. It’s a real struggle but we have to keep at it.”
Stacey McSpirit, from Paws Animal Sanctuary in Findon, said that changes in living patterns were at fault for the increase of the last few years.
She said: “People are moving around so much these days.
“With the economic problems, people have been downsizing. Landlords usually have a blanket ban on pets so they get dumped on us.”
Ron Ayres, who runs Lost Cats in Brighton, said the situation is “almost unbearable”.
The former Argus Achievement Winner has battled back from multiple strokes in recent years and recently lost one of his dedicated volunteers in June.
Tracey Virgo, 43, who he described as “his angel” died suddenly following an asthma attack on her doorstep.
The 75-year-old said: “I would love to step down but I don’t knowwhat I would do with all the cats.
“We are absolutely full. We get new cats in every day. It’s terrible. People just dump them on us.”
He explained irresponsible breeding was largely to blame for the explosion in the number of abandoned cats.
“You get these people who think they can make a bit of money from breeding.
“They get a few cats and start the process, but when it goes wrong and they can’t find buyers we get them.
“Nearly every morning I go out to find a box on the doorstep. I’d prefer if people just knocked on the door.
“We’re completely full, we need as much help as possible.”
But it isn’t just the small independent rescue centres feeling the strain.
Bosses at the Cats Protection in Haywards Heath told The Argus the situation had reached “crisis point”.
Already this month they have taken on more than 100 abandoned cats – yet re-homed just 38.
Waiting list They have 227 currently at the centre with a further 140 on the waiting list.
Manager Danielle Draper said: “We really are at crisis point so if anyone is planning on getting a cat we urge you not to put it off as we really need to home these cats quickly so we can continue helping more this summer.”
She added that the summer months are notoriously busy with cats giving birth to often unwanted kittens.
The heatwave, she said, had also “exacerbated the problem” with the weather putting potential new owners off getting a cat.
“We’re simply not homing the cats as quickly as we’re getting them in. For every cat we home, we are taking two more in.
“Our centre hasn’t been as busy with people looking to adopt, perhaps because they are making the most of the weather or going on holiday.”
The ongoing difficult financial climate has also seen a drop in donations made to centres as people struggle to make ends meet.
The result is volunteers doing more with less.
Mr Ayres added: “One thing which isn’t falling is the vet bills. They continue to go up, it’s crippling.
“I’ve never known it as bad as it is at the moment.
“I’m getting on and I’m not sure how long I can keep this up.”
Animal rescue campaigners are calling on the government to make micro-chipping cats and dogs compulsory.
The move, they argue, will not only make it easier to return missing pets but also act as a deterrent to those breeding irresponsibly and abandoning their animals.
Plans are in place for it to be compulsory for owners to microchip dogs – however this will only come into force in 2016.
There are no plans to bring in compulsory micro-chipping for cats.
Ron Ayres, from Lost Cats Brighton, said: “It would make such a huge difference.
“Cats are getting dumped all over the place. We picked up a bag of kittens at Brighton Station the other week.
“A lot of it is down to irresponsible breeding. I think micro-chipping would really help.”
Stacey McSpirit, from Paws Animal Sanctuary in Findon, is called out many times a week to pick up stray animals.
She said: “Some are micro-chipped but not many. It makes it much easier to find the owner. It would save us so much precious time.
“It doesn’t cost much either. Some places do it for free.
“I would urge all owners to micro-chip their pets as soon as possible. For their sake as well as ours.”
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