2015 has been a very busy year at the centre, with lots of changes and some impressive rehoming stories thanks to the hard work of our staff members, volunteers and supporters. So here we've put together some reminders of the fantastic year we've had! See if you remember them...
In April we said goodbye to our Volunteer Coordinator and Communications Officer - Leanne Manchester. Leanne has gone on to work for The Wildlife Trusts as part of their communication team, so Rose Lambert has taken over as Communications Officer and Catherine Tunaley has been covering the Volunteer Coordinator post. This year we also welcomed Molly Letch as an Animal Care Team Leader, Dani Hubbard as an Animal Care Assistant and Meg Oldham as an apprentice Animal Care Assistant. We also appointed Ian as Book Keeper for the branch, and our trustees have had a mix around recently too.
Throughout April and May we had an overhaul of the dog exercise yard and the rabbit accommodation. Our old yard was looking a bit worse for wear and was starting to get a bit shabby, so we had a brand new one designed and put in place with much more space, better fencing, an extra gate, a covered area and a moveable dividing gate for mixing dogs during behavioural observations.
The rabbit area was in desperate need of an update, but we needed a special design to ensure we were meeting their welfare needs and making the most of the small amount of space available in our tiny centre! The new area was opened in time for Rabbit Awareness Week, and has seen many happy bunnies rehomed.
The rehoming figures have been climbing steadily for the past few years, and 2015 is no exception! This year we have rehomed over 750 animals, including 174 cats, 244 kittens, 155 dogs, 37 puppies, 61 rabbits, 19 guinea pigs and over 60 small animals, including rats, mice, birds, chinchillas, degus and gerbils.
This is especially impressive this year, as the centre was hit by a nasty strain of cat flu in October and the whole site was closed for around a week. The cattery was closed for over a month whilst the staff worked tirelessly to get the cats and kittens back up to health, some from incredibly low points.
We've also had a record year for the number of animals in foster homes - 252 animals benefited from some extra attention and TLC in a quiet environment to give them a break from the cattery/kennel. We are extremely grateful to all of our fosterers for giving elderly dogs/cats somewhere quiet to sleep, puppies the extra training they need, nervous animals the time to build up trust, and pregnant mum cats the space to give birth and raise their kittens.
We've had great success with our events this year, with Bark in the Park, RSPCA Week, Rabbit Awareness Week, Carsington 7 Race and, new for 2015, Big Walkies. Our Income Generation Manager, Victoria Leeming, has been busy organising events throughout the past 12 months.
Bark in the Park was a hit as usual, and is our most popular event with many people returning yearly to enter their pets in our fun dog show and take a look at the great stalls. This year we had Karl from St Leonard's Vets on hand for health checks, and he co-judged the show along with RSPCA Inspector Sarah Burrows. The weather was brilliant and a great day was had by all, so we've already started organising next year's!
RSPCA Week saw the centre host a weekend of fun open days to showcase the important work we do and to highlight the importance of the charity and the role we play in animal welfare. We had a lovely time talking to supports and showing them around our centre.
Rabbit Awareness Week is another yearly event, held at the centre to increase awareness of the importance of rabbit welfare, as they are the most neglected pet in the UK. We provided rabbit health checks and had some stalls and fun facts about the rabbits so owners could learn more about their wonderful pets.
The Carsington 7 Race went down well again, with lots of runners and lots of money raised through sponsorship, which all goes back to the animal centre to help care for neglected, abused and abandoned animals. You can already sign up for our 2016 race here - time to get training!
Our newest event was Big Walkies - an event organised and overseen by National RSPCA. Luckily we had brilliantly sunny weather, which was perfect for the dogs doing their sponsored walk around Shipley Country Park. It's not known as the Best. Walk. Ever. for nothing you know!
This year we've expanded on our social media platforms to increase awareness of our shelter in the surrounding areas. In July we crossed the 9,000 likes mark on Facebook and now have 9,804 likes there, and 3,324 followers on Twitter. We carried out interviews with the animal centre staff that were published on the website, and changed our Mews Reports from blog to Facebook post format. We've run campaigns using social media to find homes for long stay animals, and one post about misconceptions about Staffies reached a whopping 58,461 people on Facebook - that's amazing!
We've had some incredible stories this year involving our animals. Do you remember them?
-George: George is a Staffie with brain damage from being severely beaten by his previous owner. He was transferred to us from another RSPCA centre as nobody had shown an interest in him, so we decided to give him a chance. Luckily he found his perfect home and has even been featured in the Derby Telegraph!
-Quentin: this old boy struggled to find a home for a long time. He spent months in our cattery searching for the perfect home, but struggled to catch anybody's eye due to his age and black and white fur. Quentin settled in straight away in his new home.
-Suki: Suki was abandoned outside our gates at midnight in February 2015. Luckily we had a spare kennel, thanks to another dog being adopted earlier that day, so we had a rare space to put her in. Despite a feature in the Derby Telegraph, Suki wasn't adopted until April, but it was definitely worth the wait for this sweetheart.
-Nix: arriving terrified and confused, 13 year old Nix was brought to the centre when her owner died. Unfortunately she struggled to adjust to the cattery but blossomed in a foster home. Nix found patient and caring owners who were able to bring her out of her shell.
-Marius: Marius was found as a tiny kitten lost down a storm drain, and brought to the centre by an RSPCA Inspector. He was unhappy in the cattery and went to a foster home to give him some socialising to help him settle. Marius ended up being adopted by his fosterer - she couldn't bare to leave him!
-Suzy: Suzy is a Labrador cross Staffie, who was all set to go to her new home when we found out she was pregnant! That put a bit of a spanner in the works, but Suzy went on to give birth to 7 puppies and proved to be an amazing mum. After bringing up her little ones, Suzy could finally go home - and she's loving life there.