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Sussex animal shelters overwhelmed with abandoned animals
12:48pm Monday 10th September 2012 in Give A Pet A Home
By Ben James and John Herring
Six unwanted dogs are picked up by wardens every single day across Sussex, new figures reveal.
The findings mark an 11% rise on 2008 with shelters across the county reporting record numbers of abandoned pets.
On top of this, donations have stopped coming in and vet bills are increasing on an almost monthly basis.
But dogs are just the tip of |the iceberg – with volunteers reporting the most desperate period in living memory for cats, reptiles and guinea pigs, amongst other animals.
Stacey McSpirit, 72, who has run Paws Animal Sanctuary in Findon, near Worthing, for the past 30 years, said: “I have never known anything like it. Everywhere is completely |full.
“The phone starts ringing at 7am and I don’t finish until gone midnight.
“The situation has reached crisis point.”
With this in mind we are re-launching The Argus Give a Pet a Home campaign.
We are calling on our readers to:
- Head down to their nearest shelter when thinking of getting a new pet.
- Make sure pets are neutered or spayed at the earliest opportunity to spare any unwanted accidents.
- Think long and hard about whether you have the time, money, health and inclination to care for a pet for its whole life.
Groups around the county are pleading for help with donations and adoptions with record numbers of animals crammed into their shelters and homes.
Every single group The Argus called last week were at full capacity with volunteers having to make the heartbreaking decision to turn pets away – knowing full well that the consequences could be fatal.
Last month we also revealed that shelters are having to put down healthy older animals in order to make way for younger ones who are easier to re-home.
The response we received was one of anger – but the truth of the matter is that they have no other option.
The shelter at the heart of that story was Lost Cats Brighton in Mile Oak.
Following the publication, they managed to re-home over 20 cats, freeing up vital space for incoming strays and abandoned pets.
But just days later they are full to capacity yet again.
Manager Ron Ayres, who is a previous Argus Achievement Award winner, now has 45 cats in his back garden facility along with another 15 in his house.
Volunteer Isobel Muir, said: “As a relatively small shelter we can spend over £2,000 a month on bills.
“We don’t get any money from government grants or anything – we rely entirely on donations.
“It is really bad at the moment – within days of re-homing 20 cats following the story we were full again. It’s never-ending.
“We get calls every day from people wanting to bring in their cats but we perhaps re-home maybe one or two a week.”
Jenny Wells, manager of Patcham RSPCA, said that the same was the case with reptiles.
She said: “They are often something of a fashion so people will get rid of them without much thought.
“The problem is that those kind of animals can live for up to 20 years.”
Patcham reptile manager Keith Simpson-Wells added: “People need to do their research and make sure that they can take on one of these animals.
“If so, they are fantastic pets.”
The story is a familiar one at the other end of the scale, with horses experiencing the same difficulties.
Pauline Grant, from the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust, has worked with the animals for 44 years.
At present they have 110 horses on their 165-acre site with a further 300 horses on loan. She said: “The number of abandoned horses has gone up quite a lot.
“If there is no value in a horse people tend to get rid of them. Around 80% of people who own a horse will get rid of it when they can't ride it anymore.”
The size of the animal unsurprisingly increases the cost of food and vet bills.
With horses that can be astronomical with owners simply abandoning them when they run out of money.
She added: “We aren’t rescuing horses but taking responsibility for them off their owners.” Jenny Wells argues that we have become a more disposable society.
She said: “People don’t think before they take on an animal. It is a life time commitment – and that means life.
“Some of these animals can live for up to 20 years.
“But when it doesn’t suit them or when they have run out of money they just bring them in to us.
“People need to think the whole thing through and if they would still like to give a loving home to one of our animals then we would love to see them.”
Ms McSpirit says that the economy is the main contributing factor.
She said: “People are losing their jobs and having to move out of their houses which often have sky-high rent rates.
“That’s the most common reason we get.
“A lot of these short let flats don’t allow animals so people just bring them in to us.”
We cannot stress the seriousness of the situation enough.
Over the next few weeks we will feature a handful of animals in desperate need of a loving home.
And remember for every one we feature, there are hundreds of others waiting for someone to rescue them.
If you think you can help then contact one of the numbers on the left.
Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre, Brighton Road, Shoreham By Sea, West Sussex BN43 5LT Tel: 01273 452576.
Lost Cats Brighton, 182 Valley Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN41 2TJ Tel: 01273 422721/07990812669.
Paws Animal Sanctuary, Squirrels Cottage, 15 The Oval, Findon Village , West Sussex , BN14 0TN Tel: 01903 872734.
RSPCA Animal Centre, Braypool Lane, Patcham, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 8ZH Tel: 01273 554218.
RSPCA Reptile Rescue, Braypool Lane, Patcham,Brighton, East Sussex BN1 8ZH Tel: 07882770323.
Sussex Horse Rescue Trust, Hempstead Farm, Hempstead Lane, Uckfield, East Sussex TN22 3DL, Tel: 01825 762010.