Hard-working staff and volunteers have been busy over the past two months caring for up to 120 animals at their base on Spital Lane.
Despite facing a ‘massive hit’ to their finances and the cancellation of a series of fundraising events because of the Covid-19 crisis, they have discovered new ways of operating to continue their vital work.
Key to this has been a remote adoption scheme which has seen people taking on pets without meeting them face-to-face.
Steph McCawley, supporter engagement officer for the Chesterfield & North Derbyshire Branch, said everyone had been ‘blown away’ by the success of the new project.
“It has been wonderful that people are willing to take on animals without even meeting them face-to-face,” Steph said.
“We had about 300 applications from people wanting to adopt and since April 20 have rehomed 50 animals through this process.
“Because the centre has been closed to the public during lockdown, it has been the only way we could rehome animals.
“We introduced an application process on our website where people could see pictures and videos of animals. We then did phone interviews and got people to do videos of their home so we could do a virtual home check.
“In many ways it is a great time to adopt because people are spending more time at home. This allows animals, particularly dogs, to get into a routine and build up a trusting relationship with new owners.”
At the height of lockdown, over Easter, Steph says the centre was caring for about 50 dogs, 40 cats and 10 rabbits.
“At one stage we were full to the brim with dogs so finding a new way to rehome animals was critical,” Steph said.
“We had a litter of mastiff-cross puppies which needed caring for and two or three litters of kittens. Fortunately, only a couple of people were furloughed so we had virtually a full team, although social distancing brought other challenges.
“To say this period was different for us would be a massive understatement!”
Although lockdown has now eased, the centre remains closed to the public.
Steph says the team are hopeful that the RSPCA’s charity shops can open on June 15 if they can meet guidelines for safe trading.
“Unfortunately, our funding streams have taken a massive hit,” Steph said. “And major events like our annual dog show have been cancelled.
“So I’d still urge people to donate if they can possibly can to allow us to continue caring for animals in the Chesterfield area. It will make a huge difference.”
Visit the Chesterfield and North Derbyshire RSPCA branch to make a donation or to rehome one of their animals.