Chesterfield RSPCA centre braces itself for 'busiest month'- cute animal pictures alert

Graham Carter with Franco, a Lurcher type one-year-old.
Graham Carter with Franco, a Lurcher type one-year-old.

The Chesterfield branch of the RSPCA has space for 45 dogs, 24 cats, 24 rabbits- and the odd gerbil or two. Or ten.

With the charity bracing itself for its busiest month of the year, you have to wonder how the Spital Lane centre- which is often at full capacity- survives.

Looking for a new home. 13-year-old Vern, a domestic short haired cat, with Kim Bestwick.

Looking for a new home. 13-year-old Vern, a domestic short haired cat, with Kim Bestwick.

"With a lot of hard work, to be honest,” says Steph McCawley, supporter engagement officer, struggling to be heard over a happily barking ‘Malcolm’.

Malcom, thought to be a Great Dane, was brought in as a stray puppy and has deformed front legs that staff have been working to fix before he can be put up for adoption. He’s just one of the dozens of animals in the centre’s care.

June, the height of the breeding season for many wild animals, has the RSPCA working ‘flat out’ to aid not just domesticated pets but all manner of creatures from newborn foxcubs, to injured blackbirds, to tiny orphaned ‘hoglets’.

New figures have revealed that the charity received 2,450 calls wildlife calls across the East Midlands in June 2018 alone.

Nine-month-old Skye who is paired with Bertie a white rabbit and needs a home for two.

Nine-month-old Skye who is paired with Bertie a white rabbit and needs a home for two.

The Chesterfield centre is not licenced nor has the manpower to deal with wild animals- but is still inundated over the summer as adoption numbers trail off and kitten season descends.

"People are going away at this time of year and adoptions start to slow down massively,” says Steph.

"There’s also a spike in cats and kittens because people just aren’t neutering their pets- both female and male cats need to be neutered or it only solves half the problem.

"It’s difficult to imagine someone abandoning a box of tiny kittens, but it happens, as they require round-the-clock care.

Max, a five-month-old Colly/cross, with engagement officer Steph McCawley.

Max, a five-month-old Colly/cross, with engagement officer Steph McCawley.

"Stray cats will also sometimes abandon their babies.

"Luckily, we have some foster homes on board willing to provide a safe, comfy environment for any kittens that do come in.

"We also launched our Cat Adoption Centre at the Chesterfield branch of Pets at Home.

"Through this we’ve managed to re-home 12 cats since April, which is amazing.”

Needing a loving home is Harley, a German Shepherd who has had a rough life but is a big softie.

Needing a loving home is Harley, a German Shepherd who has had a rough life but is a big softie.

For staff and volunteers at the centre itself, the day kicks off with morning checks on all the animals.

The dogs are then let out into external runs so their kennels can be hosed down and cleaned.

"Quite a labour intensive job, that one,” said Steph. “I don’t think I need to go into more detail.”

The animals are walked one by one, fed and trained. Medical treatment, and cuddles, are administered if needed.

This ‘non-stop’ day is worth it for animal lovers like the centre’s 15 staff and 20 volunteers.

"One story that springs to mind is about one of our dogs, Harley, who’s with us at the grand old age of 13,” said Steph.

Bracken the four-week-old guinea pig who is on the look-out for a new home with her sisters.

Bracken the four-week-old guinea pig who is on the look-out for a new home with her sisters.

"He’s a German Shepherd and came to us in a very bad way. He was so thin, you could count the vertebrae on his back from across the room.

"He was also entirely bare. All his fur had been eaten away by this terrible skin condition.

"Anyway, you should see him now. The team worked really hard to bathe him daily, apply treatment to his skin and make sure his diet was healthy.

"He goes up for adoption soon. It can be difficult to re-home older dogs, but it never fails to surprise me how many lovely people do come forward wanting to make an animal’s final years or months as happy and comfortable as possible.”

To care for poorly and homeless animals like Harley, and keep the centre in general up and running, staff must find around £425,000 in donations.

There are a number of ways residents can help.

To donate, volunteer, fundraise or look at pets up for adoption visit: https://chesterfield-rspca.org.uk
The centre accepts drop off donations such as pet food, towels, blankets and toys.

The centre’s annual Fun Dog Show will take place on Saturday, July 6 at Eastwood Park. To register your dog or find out more visit the website above.

To report concerns about an animal, call the RSPCA 24-hour hotline on 0300 1234 999.

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