Lockdown has hit animal charities hard as they receive little in the way of financial support. ANDREW MOSLEY finds out about the battle for survival faced by one award-winning Rotherham organisation
THE work carried out by Wickersley-based Rain Rescue is costly enough as it is, but when the cash stopped coming in and the workload increased they were left relying on a mixture of survival instinct and incredible goodwill.
Lockdown hit hard at the 18 year old charity, which helps more than 300 cats and dogs every year, and it desperately needs help if it is to continue its work at the same level.
Head of fundraising Tonya Kennedy, who started at Rain this year, said income literally ended as lockdown hit in March. “We had to stop adoptions and couldn’t rehome, supermarkets closed so there were no collections and no events going on,” she said.
“We relied a lot on Facebook and support on social media, plus staff were furloughed, which was the only government funding we could get as there has been nothing for animal charities. It has been hard to carry on with literally no income coming in. Everything people did for us such as running marathons, holding collections, they could not do.
“We really need money, whatever people can afford to donate, but if they can’t they can share our stories on social media. Also, we are always looking for foster homes, but the money is the thing that means we can continue doing what we need to.
“If people cannot afford to donate they can help by spreading the word and making sure their animal is neutered. It is about being part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
Coronavirus also hit volunteering through shielding and the lack of public transport for helpers, with those that could carrying out extra shifts, often with just one member of staff on site.
The battle is not over and Tonya said: “We also need to make more people aware of Rain. Those who have heard of us love us but there are a lot who do not know we exist and are surprised we are here.
“This year we won the Petplan & Association of Dogs & Cats Homes Animal Charity Welfare Team of the Year award for the whole country, so hopefully that sends out a really positive message about what we do.”
Catteries supervisor Vykki Tufnell, who started at Rain just over four years ago, said a lot had changed in her time at the charity, which was started by Jacquie Neilson in 2002.
The original idea was to take in stray dogs and find them other rescues, but Rain ended up with more dogs on site than it could offer a safe place to so built kennels and started rescuing and rehoming.
Vykki said: “Changes in regulations and sharing of posts on social media means there are far less stray dogs now and the emphasis has shifted to cats with the lack of neutering and the fact they are more free rein.
“We’ve already had more kittens in this year because people haven’t been able to afford to get their cats neutered and the vets have been restricted in what they can do, so there has been a massive increase in the number of kittens being born.
“We have taken in a lot of cats where elderly owners have passed away because of Covid. There will also be an added impact on jobs and finances going forward and a lot of people will have taken in lockdown pets as they will have had more time at home but that could end and have other implications.
“There are only a few workers at the centre, but our foster team are awesome, looking after kittens until they are ready to move to a new home and preparing them for life as a pet.”
Rain currently has 52 cats and dogs in its care at the centre or with foster carers, and can take up to 60.
Facilities include individual kennels, many with sofas to make the animal feel at home, as well as an exercise paddock with agility equipment to mentally stimulate the dog and help build the confidence of the more nervous residents, a re-homing cattery for those ready for adoption, an isolation pen and an intake unit for those coming from unknown backgrounds.
The average cat or dog costs £10 a night to look after, plus healthcare, including neutering (£45), vaccinations (£30) and micro-chipping (£10), with one West Highland Terrier needing ear canals removed, which cost more than £1,000 — and that was at a special rate. The average stay for an animal is 33 days, with kittens and those with more complex problems often remaining much longer.
Last year’s vet bill came to a staggering £38,000, but Vykki says: “We look at an animal and if it has a shot at a good quality of life with treatment we are not the people to deny that opportunity.”
Each animal is homed after a personalised matching service, the adoption process is quick and easy and there is post-adoption support and advice, ensuring the animal has a happy home and owner.
Rain Rescue, based at Summerfield Lodge, Moat Lane, Rotherham, S66 1DZ, can be contacted on 01709 540608 or 07425 150860. More information at www.rainrescue.co.uk, facebook.com/rainrescue and instagram.com/rainrescueuk
Just £5 can provide flea and worming treatment for dogs
£10 can buy each cat a bed and scratching post
£25 can feed a rescue dog for a month
£50 can keep an abandoned animal warm and sheltered for five nights
Online donations can be made at www.rainrescue.co. uk/donate
One off donations can be made by texting BARK5 to 70500 to donate £5 or RAIN to 70300 to give £3 a month
The weekly lottery can be played at www.rainrescue.co. uk/lottery